by C.J. Tudor
Published by: Random House
Narrator: Euan Morton
Narration Rating: 4
In 1986, Eddie and his friend 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 each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be 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 his other friends got the same messages, 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.
A brilliant suspense thriller, The Chalk Man, written by C.J. Tudor and narrated by Euan Morton was both thriller and mystery. The Chalk Man is Tudor’s debut novel, and I get chills just thinking about her next book. The story that unfolded had a beautiful, addictive flow that allowed the listeners to step into the tale and lose themselves.
The story told from the perspective of Eddie with an alternating timeline between 1986 and present day (2016) hooked me immediately. In 1986, Eddie is twelve years old and fondly referred to as Eddie Munster by his best friends and schoolmates, Metal Mickey, Fat Gav, Hoppo and the only girl of the group, Nicky. They spend their days biking, exploring and hiking in the woods. In 2016, Eddie is a single, forty-two years old school teacher. He lives in his parent’s former home and has a young female tenant named Chloe. Eddie is a bit of an oddball, with some issues that I will leave the listener to discover.
The story begins with a prologue that sets the tone for the entire story. I immediately settled in with the narrations of Euan Morton and enjoyed both his tone and voices for each character.
We spend time getting to know Eddie and his friends as we experience life in 1986. From controversies to kids roaming free in the lazy days of summer we get a sense of their friendship and daily lives. I loved their friendship and getting to know the dynamics of the group. When I think of them, the young characters of Stand By Me, It, and Stranger Things come to mind.
The kids are brimming with excitement one Saturday because they are attending the fair. It will be their first time without adult supervision. Tudor vividly brought their enthusiasm and the sights and sounds of the county fair to life as he introduced each friend. What should have been one of their fondest childhood memories ends in tragedy. Events over the summer will split them apart and strip them of their childhood innocence. But for now, the promise of summer lies before them. They spend their days together, face down bullies and tease each other relentlessly. When one gets a bucket of chalk, they begin leaving messages for each other. I loved the secret codes they created. However, a mysterious chalkman leads them to a grizzly discover, and nothing will ever be the same.
Tudor touched on controversies such as abortion, tight-knit communities, Eddie’s disorders and character’s issues with Alzheimer’s. These matters grounded the story while adding depth, doubt, and insight into the characters and events. The switch from the past to present was done with dates and by chapter making it easy to know exactly where you are. It also allowed for slow reveals and created suspense. Tudor also had a firm grasp of their language, and it reflected in the switch from youth to adulthood.
As an adult, Eddie is taken aback when he receives a note in the mail with a chalkman figure. He soon discovers he isn’t the only one. Tudor kept me listening as the past met the present. We got to know the kids as adults, find out what happened in the past, and see them join together again. The plot was dark and twisted with moments where I doubted everything. While I figured somethings out, I was surprised by some of the reveals. I even appreciated the theories presented for the pieces that didn’t quite fit.
A brilliant page-turner, The Chalk Man, providing all the elements I love in a suspenseful thriller. Euan Morton’s narration combined with Tudor’s storytelling made this a captivating listen.Debut novel, The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor narrated by Euan Morton offered a suspenseful thriller that should be on your #mustlisten #audio list! #loveaudioooks Click To Tweet
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