‘None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.
Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?
Was it the terrible accident?
Or when they found the first body?’
Today I am thrilled to be joining the blog tour with CJ Tudor and her debut novel The Chalk Man. Just published with Michael Joseph, it has already been sold in 39 territories with major film talks in progress.
Described as ‘grippingly cinematic, special and spine-tinglingly creepy’ I can honestly say that from the prologue I was hooked.
Please read on for my thoughts…..
Looking back, it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident.
When twelve-year-old Eddie first met the Chalk Man.
It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages between his group of friends.
And it was fun, to start with, until the figures led them to the body of a young girl.
That was thirty years ago and Ed thought the past was behind him.
Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and a drawing of a stick figure.
As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realises the game was never over…
Everyone has secrets.
Everyone is guilty of something.
And children are not always so innocent.
Do you judge a book by it’s cover?
I know I shouldn’t, but I have been known to hug a cover or two because of it’s sheer beauty!! In the case of The Chalk Man my immediate reaction was WOW…how menacing and very very disturbing…let me inside!
A hangman’s noose is always going to lend a certain threatening element to any cover. Add to that a prologue that raised goosebumps with very eerie opening scenes – ‘the girls head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves….her almond eyes looked up at the canopy of sycamore, beech and oak….They didn’t blink as shiny black beetles scurried over their pupils…They didn’t see anything any more, except darkness.’
The Chalk Man is an incredible debut spanning thirty years, taking the reader from the present day, circa 2016, back to 1986.
Thirty years ago Eddie and his friends were just a bunch of twelve-year-olds, who liked nothing better than hanging out together and getting up to occasional mischief. They were a very motley crew, all from very different backgrounds, but as a group they overlooked each others differences, as kids do, and they just got on with being children, before the teenage years would inevitably bring changes.
Life changed dramatically for them all the day Eddie met The Chalk Man at the fair. Both witnesses to a very traumatic accident, The Chalk Man becomes an unusual safety net for Eddie. An odd sort of an individual, Eddie both admired and feared him in equal measure. As Eddie struggled to come to terms with the aftermath of this freakish event, he went in search of distraction. .
As children, we all love the notion of leaving secret messages for our friends. For Eddie and his crew the idea of leaving chalk messages for each other became an exciting new method of coded communication
A marvellous idea, passed to Eddie by The Chalk Man.
Those summer months of 1986 prove to be a very unsettling period for Eddie and all his friends. Along with societal and political issues, these friends came face-to-face with death. Kids should never have to be exposed to violence, but when they are directed to the body of young girl in the woods, led there by the random appearance of chalk figures, their lives are forever changed.
This was just the beginning….
CJ Tudor builds suspense masterfully throughout the novel. As a reader you are, one minute nostalgic for the chocolate mice of your youth and next minute having an almost voyeuristic experience, as you smell and feel death in the room with you.
Fast forward thirty years and Eddie receives a startling package, containing a stick of chalk and a drawing of a stick figure. Eddie had attempted to move on with his life following that shocking discovery thirty years ago, but not with any great success. Now a teacher, he remained in the family home, with just a ‘bottle’ for a best friend and a very low self-esteem. He is portrayed as quite an introverted individual who struggles through life, someone who is living forever in the shadow of the past.
We never really get to KNOW Eddie, yet one cannot help but feel he was robbed of something that day in the fair in 1986. There was a loss of innocence that summer and for Eddie he packed it all away like Pandora’s Box. With the arrival of the package comes a crack in the cover and Eddie soon finds himself right back in the past, reliving that summer and the direction of his life since.
Packed with a tense and brooding atmosphere The Chalk Man combines elements of evil, violence, the macabre and unbelievably, nostalgia. The characterisation is spot on with very rich imagery used throughout, bringing the reader right into the horrors as they unfold. There are layers to this novel, lots of layers and as each one is peeled away, another shocker is unveiled.
The Chalk Man is being billed as ‘the next global crime thriller sensation’ and having read it, I can see why.
Sinister, ominous and gripping.
One to watch out for folks.
Purchase Link ~ The Chalk Man
About CJ Tudor:
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author.
The Chalk Man is her first novel.
Twitter ~ @cjtudor