In 1986, Eddie is twelve years old and, like the other children his age, he is dealing with friendships, his first crush, and bullies. But that year things change. First a terrible accident at the town fair, then arguments between parents, an assault, and a scandal in the school are just few of the things that disrupt Eddie’s life on that fatidic summer. When one of his friends receives a box of chalks for his birthday, Eddie and his friends first dismiss it, but then they find a good use for them, making up secret codes to communicate among them. One day, the chalk figures appear on their own and lead the boys to a gruesome discovery.
Thirty years later, Eddie is a teacher, he still lives in his family home, and he still hangs out with some of his childhood friends. Eddie and his friends seem to have left their past behind but one day the chalk figures appear again…
I have been hearing about THE CHALK MAN for months as everyone was raving about it saying how good it was, so, as soon as it came out, I bought a copy and immersed myself in it and I saw why everyone was so excited about it. The narration is told from Eddie’s perspective and it alternates between the past and the present. The writing is addictive – you wouldn’t say it’s a debut novel – and the author created a fantastic cast of well-developed characters, especially Eddie who is an engaging character, at times odd, and with a very strange and macabre obsession (which I am not going to give away as it’s important to the story).
The truth about the events of the past is told slowly, a few bits at the time, although there are a few hints here and there that build the suspense until the shocking revelation at the end. All psychological thrillers have a shocking ending, but this one really surprises the reader as you really don’t see it coming.
I liked that the author, among mystery and scary moments that keep you awake at night, added also an emotional side to the novel. Eddie’s father had Alzheimer and the author describes in details the protagonist’s struggle with his father disease, his reaction to losing him, and his fear that the disease could be hereditary. It’s an interesting storyline that perfectly develops throughout the novel.
THE CHALK MAN is one of these book that it is not easy to put down because there is never a dull moment. It is dark and atmospheric, a coming-of-age novel full of twists and turns and dramatic moments that keep you glued to the page. Even when the action is more slow-paced, the tension is still high and the story keeps you on edge. A must-read debut!
THE CHALK MAN is out in the UK on January 11th.