The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The girl’s head rested on a small pile of orange-and-brown leaves.

The Chalk Man was my pick for work’s book club. When I was researching scary books for a Halloween-themed post last year (which I didn’t end up writing!), I remembered coming across this book, and seeing lots of positive reviews – many claiming how it was one of the “scariest”.

I’ve never read a book that’s truly scared me. I get nightmares from horror movies all the time – but I’ve never had the same response from a book. The closest I got was when I read The Shining – it certainly creeped me out (I almost had to put it down before bed one evening), but I can’t say that it made me feel genuinely scared.

So, I picked The Chalk Man, despite some reservations from my fellow book clubbers. Turns out, they needn’t have worried, because The Chalk Man isn’t scary AT ALL.

I feel like the blurb is very misleading. The Chalk Man is more of a thriller, if anything, but even then it’s not particularly edge-of-your-seat stuff. My book club felt the same way (to their relief!), so it definitely wasn’t just me.

Another reason I was drawn to The Chalk Man was because of the prominent review from the king of horror; Stephen King himself: “If you like my stuff, you’ll like this.”

Yeah, you want to know why he said this? Because The Chalk Man is EXTREMELY similar to Stephen King’s own novel, IT. 

Honestly, it’s so similar in some parts, that it’s a wonder King didn’t sue (I would have been pretty pissed if it was me). Here are some of the similarities:

  • 5 kids (4 boys and 1 red-haired girl) spend the summer together riding around on their bikes trying to stay away from one particularly nasty bully
  • The red-haired girl lives with her Dad who abuses her
  • This nasty bully sexually assaults one of the kids
  • The kids get into a rock fight with the nasty bully
  • The bully ends up dying under mysterious circumstances
  • A schoolgirl is murdered under mysterious circumstances
  • The 5 kids grow up to live separate adult live, before a mysterious letter forces them to re-group
  • One of them dies under mysterious circumstances
  • The remaining 4 adults must work together to figure out the mystery from their childhood

Sound familiar at all?

It’s not that The Chalk Man was particularly bad, it’s just that I felt like it wasn’t original enough. Why would you want to read The Chalk Man, when IT already exists, and does it so much better?

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only issue I had with this book. A LOT happens, so much so that at times it almost felt like too much. There are so many unnecessary subplots that didn’t always contribute to the story – and sometimes it felt like the author just wanted to add dramatic plot lines and mysteries just for the sake of it. Annoyingly, not all of these are resolved, leaving a lot of loose ends and questions after I’d finished.

I feel like this is reading as a particularly harsh review. It’s not that The Chalk Man is bad – it’s a real page turner and I found myself unable to put it down. I just felt really disappointed afterwards, because I had been led to expect something that it wasn’t.

Have you read The Chalk Man? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts in the comments (especially if you’ve also read IT).

2 Stars (2 / 5)

I start the engine and drive away…toward Manchester, and my future.

2 Comments

  1. Fab review, Louise. I enjoyed the book but hadn’t read IT. I’m sure I might’ve had a very different experience if I had. I know it must be incredibly difficult to come up with totally original ideas but too many similarities bug me.

    • Louise Dickens Reply

      Ahh yes, I imagine it’s a completely different experience if you haven’t read IT. I hope my review didn’t come across too harsh… it’s just difficult to review it fairly because in my head it’s a comparison!

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