The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

I finished this book, but it was a mighty effort. The story and characters in and of themselves aren’t bad, in a vacuum — the plot is serviceable and the lead protagonists are fine. The writing is boring, without flair, pedestrian . . . but this is a debut novel. I didn’t expect this to be perfect.


The shameless ripping off of one Stephen King, though, I cannot abide. The story’s conceit is, to be charitable, familiar: the narrative switches between 2016 and 1986, and features a guy (named Eddie, wouldn’t ya know) dealing with dark events that happened in his childhood, events that shaped him and his friends into the people they are today. The gang is a nice hodgepodge of cliches ripped out of everything from It to Stranger Things to The Goonies. Add in an important character named Mr. Hallorann, a few references to something called “the deadlights”, a funeral scene featuring a casket falling to the floor, only for the casket’s latch to come undone and reveal the corpse’s hand, and you’ve got lukewarm reminders of everything the Master of Horror was doing better three decades ago. It’s not often I accuse authors of plagiarism, and I’m not calling into question this author’s character or intent — but damn, this story is anything but original.


It’s unfortunate, too. For a while I was mildly intrigued and wanted to like these characters. But I quickly found myself growing bored and frustrated. I was able to predict everything these jokers were going to say and do before they said and did it. That’s never good. Avoid this at all costs.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free review copy.