Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor
Publish Date: January 9, 2018 (Happy Birthday to Me!!)
Obtained: Netgalley eARC/Book of the Month
Synopsis: In 1986, Ed and his friends play a secret code. It involves the chalk man, drawn around town. Until, one day, someone leaves them chalk men leading to a dismembered body. That’s when everything changes. Cut to 2016, they have all moved on with their lives. Until they all receive letters containing a chalk man. And then one of them ends up dead. Ed realizes that their past is coming back to haunt them, and he makes it his mission to hunt down the truth that eluded everyone in the past.
I was so happy to be approved for the book through Netgalley. Thank you to the author and publisher for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Luckily, to my surprise, The Chalk Man was also a Book of the Month selection for December! I knew after starting the eARC that I wanted a physical copy of this book, so I went ahead and selected it. And I’m so glad I did! I also want to say that this is a birthday release for me, which I love. I knew when I saw that it came out on my birthday that I just HAD to read it.
The Chalk Man is a highly anticipated 2018 release, and for good reason. I’ve seen numerous reviews all over with nothing but wonderful things to say about it. And they’re right: this was a phenomenal thriller! It has so much going for it and I’m glad I got to read it!
Split Time Periods
The one thing I noticed a lot of people weren’t fond of were the separate chapters dedicated to both past and present. The past follows Ed and his group of friends during 1986, a year full of battles and death. The present follows Ed in 2016, reconnecting with these same friends and making new discoveries about past events.
“Beneath the veneer of adulthood, beneath the layers of experience we accrue as the years march stoically onward, we are all still children, with scraped knees and snotty noses, who need our parents… and our friends.”
I had absolutely no problem with the time shifts. Each chapter is dedicated to either past or present and is appropriately marked with the year at the beginning. I never once found myself confused at all, and appreciated the transitions that the author created. There were so many connections between both the past and the present, and the characters translated so well between children and adults.
There was so much happening in 1986 that wasn’t completely accounted for and was brought up again in 2016. First, there was a man beaten almost to death. Ed finally discovers the culprit in the present. Then, there’s the murder and dismemberment of a teenage girl. 2016 brings us answers to that riddle as well. Assumption plays an important theme throughout the novel. Everyone always assumes what happened or who did what, but none of these assumptions were ever supported by evidence.
Since they live in a relatively small town, it’s easy to know that everyone has their secrets. Someone is always holding something back, and it was exciting following Ed around trying to uncover everyone’s secrets. Considering how twisty the plot was at times, there was an answer for every nagging question in the back of my mind. I love when plots are tied up perfectly! Of course, the answers were not what Ed was hoping for, but he got them.
”Assume” Makes an “Ass” Out of “U” and “Me”
The Chalk Man borders on both thriller and horror for me, but there was the underlying theme of making assumptions. Everyone in the novel made assumptions about everything, especially with the decisions that they made. So many of those decisions had dire consequences to them, and it made me think about the ripple effect. Everything someone does causes ripples to spread out further and further, touching more than expected.
“I’ve always told you” never have regrets. You make a decision, and you make it for the right reason at the time. Even if it proves to be the wrong decision later, you live with it.”
Like I mentioned, The Chalk Man borders on the horror genre, at least in my opinion. There are some seriously dark and disturbing images brought up. If you plan on reading this, which I DEFINITELY SUGGEST YOU DO, make sure you remember there are some pretty messed up, gory scenes here. I love that kind of stuff anyway, so no harm no foul for me!
I loved every aspect of this novel. I loved the ‘80s vibe of the past, and I loved the fact that almost every character had flaws to them. No one was perfect and everyone had a part to play in the tragic year of 1986. Seriously, just go read it.
Memorable Quote: “We think we want answers. But what we really want are the right answers. Human Nature. We ask questions that we hope will give us the truth we want to hear. The problem is, you can’t choose your truths. Truth has a habit of simply being the truth. The only real choice you have is whether to believe it or not.”
Rating – I mean, isn’t it obvious? FIVE STARS!