From the shocking first chapter, through to the whirlwind finale, The Chalk Man is a wonderfully rich coming of age story about love, loss, regret and desire. This novel has it all, believable fully developed characters, a plot that keeps you wondering where it’s heading next and unsure who the murderer was, right until the last moments. Wonderful storytelling at its best.
With alternating between 1986 and 2016, the story is told from the perspective of Eddie, a character filled with regret, searching for answers to why his life was tinged with so much tragedy. As someone who lives in a small market town, the way Tudor brought this location to life felt truly authentic, filling it with larger-than-life characters such as Eddie, Fat Gav, Nicky, Metal Mickey and Hoppo that weren’t just there to push the plot along, but enrich the story. I especially enjoyed the interactions between the childhood friends. Somewhere between IT and Stand By Me, their interactions took me back to my own childhood, minus the accidents and dead bodies that is.
“What shapes us is not always our achievements, but our omissions. Not lies; simply the truths we don’t tell.”
― C.J. Tudor, The Chalk Man
The most surprising aspect of this novel is that it was C. J. Tudor’s first. This is a story that a seasoned expert would have been proud to have penned, The 1980s setting with the kids didn’t feel forced or an attempt to create a nostalgia factor (although it was produced). I, for one, will be following her career very closely, excited for what she produces next.