It’s better to have a chalk smile: A review of The Chalk Man

Throwing another book review your way because I got way behind on posting these!

I just finished The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor last night and it was quite a thrill. I received this book as one of my December picks from the Book of the Month Club (see my post script for a sales pitch on why you should join and a referral code).

The Chalk Man was a classic thriller. It’s full of questionable characters, twists you don’t always expect, and creepy events.

This book follows Eddie in both 1986 and 2016. In 1986, he is 12 years old and spends all of his time with his friends (Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky). The five of them started a secret code between the two of them. Color-coded chalk men. They use these drawings to talk to each other and send messages that only they can understand. Until, one day, chalk drawings lead them to a dismembered body in the forest and their lives change forever. Thirty years later, Eddie is a poorly adjusted adult whose past comes to haunt him in the form of a letter containing a single chalk drawing. At first he thinks it’s a prank, but when one of his childhood friends turns up dead, Eddie must dig up the past to save himself.

I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of this book. It was interesting and definitely gave me chills in parts. This book alternates chapters between 1986 and 2016 so the events unfold at the same time. While I think this was intended to build the suspense of the novel and was executed well, it is a format that I do not enjoy very often. One positive of this format was, because each chapter ended in a cliffhanger, it kept me reading. I wanted to know what happened at the end of each chapter and the events wouldn’t be resolved until two chapters later.

The best part of this novel is that Tudor did an excellent job in creating a classic 80s-inspired thriller. The Chalk Man was full of the characteristics that make a good mystery. It was similar to Stranger Things or IT, a group of friends who face gruesome events that no kid should have to face (however, The Chalk Man did not have any supernatural elements). I think my favorite part was the relationships. I enjoyed reading the relationships between the characters (especially those involving Metal Mickey) in 1986 and comparing them to 2016. It was really interesting to see how the events of 1986 changed their lives and pushed their relationships in other directions.

I’ve been in need of a good thriller and The Chalk Man didn’t disappoint. I did not expect what happened at the end of the novel and only had small suspicions of the culprit. This book introduced many suspects and brought to light many different motives. I found myself wanting to read this book every night because I needed to know what happened. All of these are elements of a good thriller.

In the end, this book gets three out of five stars from me. I really liked the story and enjoyed reading this book. It was well-written, creepy, and definitely thrilling. What kept it from a higher review was the format. I am a very impatient person and love instant gratification, so the format of alternating years and storylines (that do eventually come together) was not for me. However, if you’re a fan of thrillers, The Chalk Man is definitely worth a read and I recommend it!

PS. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month Club, click this link for my referral code! You’ll get your first month for only $10 and a free tote bag. Book of the Month Club is one of my favorite monthly subscription services. It has been a great way for me to discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can skip any month (without losing credits) if the selections aren’t for you. Seriously, check it out!

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