Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Chalk Man will be available January 9, 2018

For me, The Chalk Man, is a perfect example of how hype can ruin your reading experience. I have seen several absolutely glowing reviews of this book and I was prepared for it to be one of my new favorite books of the year. Unfortunately, it fell far short of my expectations.

Let’s start with what I did like. I really like Tudor’s writing style. This is the author’s debut novel and her writing already feels distinctive. I also am a big fan of multiple timelines and I thought it was done pretty well here.

The story was told in Eddie’s 1st person POV and I wish I could say that gave me a connection to him, but it didn’t. I never really cared that much about him. He was basically the only character in the book that had much character development and it just didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t care about his childhood friends in either timeline or his odd relationship with his lodger, Chloe.

Even though I liked the writing, I felt bored a great deal of the time. Things are revealed very, very slowly and don’t pick up until close to the end. There is a nice little twist at the end, but I felt that there were so many clues dropped into the backstory to make sure the twist made sense that it did not even come as a big surprise. I also figured out the resolution to the main mystery awhile before it was revealed.

Overall, The Chalk Man was not a bad book, but it definitely fell short of the hype for me. The slow pace, characters I didn’t really care about, and a twist with very little pay-off left me pretty disappointed. However, the author’s writing style is pretty much what made this book for me and I know I will be reading more from her in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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17 thoughts on “Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

  1. Great review. I agree that it was a slower book and I didn’t particularly love any of the characters. It was just interesting enough to keep me reading. I did love the author’s writing style, too. I will try her future books for sure.
    Hype – ugh. It’s usually a let down.

  2. When you can see the talent in a debut novel, it makes you want to read the next one, doesn’t it? The premise of The Chalk Man sounds very good and I always like reading stories about the secrets between kids when they’re growing up. Perhaps the next one will be better.

  3. I actually wanted to give this one a shot because of the hype. Now I know I should greatly reduce my expectations. Maybe it’ll help. I do love the sound of great writing though. Thank you for a wonderful honest review! 🙂

    • I seem to be one of the only ones who wasn’t head over heels for it, so you never know. I do think it might help if you lower your expectations a bit, though. Mine were just impossibly high. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it, though!

  4. The hype around thrillers always ends up ruining the whole experience for me. The Girl on the Train is the perfect example of that (though I think that one was more marketing hype than person hype) for me. I think the only one I would have been impressed by would be Gone Girl but I watched the movie and now I have no desire to read the book.
    I think I’m going to pass on this one if you found it to be slow. I like my thrillers to be a littler faster pace.

    • A lot of other people seemed to love it, so you never know. But I think you’re ok missing it. I liked Gone Girl (the book and the movie – but the book was better) and I remember how surprising it was when I read it. But I think if that same book was published today it would seem like too many other things I’ve read and I wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

  5. Pingback: November 2017 Recap | Stephanie's Book Reviews

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