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This book didn't blow me away, but I couldn't put it down. I thought it was very understated and quiet in the way the story unfolded, and I just had to know how it all ended up. I was quite surprised by the twist at the end, and also a little grossed out. I would definitely recommend this book for someone who might be taking a trip and need a good airplane book!
As someone who just recently started reading fiction, I do not have a lot of books to compare The Chalk Man to. I enjoyed the story but not enough to display the title on my bookshelf.
The story itself started out slow. I almost gave up halfway through. However, the last few chapters were great and made the book impossible to put down.
The characters were bland. However, the narrator, Ed, seems like a bland person himself...has minimal social life, creepy obsessions, and inability to really SEE others. While I wish there was focus on character development, the lack of details helped form an idea of the narrator...perhaps a form of character development in itself.
The story was full of twists. The ending was unexpected for me. I don't think there were that many plotholes.
Overall, I would say this is a good quick read. Not a great book but certainly not bad.
I just finished this book after 2 days (I'm probably considered a slow reader) of binge reading. But before that it did take me awhile to get into it. It was frustrating how it kept switching right as the "chapter" was getting good- then it'd flash forward or backwards making it really difficult to not get annoyed. So that's why it took me awhile to pick it back up. But BOTM was gifted to me and I felt obligated to finish the books I choose. So here recently I picked it back up just in hopes to make it through the end. And actually I think I picked it back up with a more open, patient mind. I ended up really really loving it actually. Like I said, the first 30-60 pages or so were so slow to me! But the more I read on and the more the story went on the I enjoyed the cliffhangers that kept my mind going! Just as I thought I'd figured it out, something else came up. I do agree with some other comments on this book how there was quite a bit of unanswered questions, but so many good books do that as well, it's a mystery maybe the author is just trying to leave your mind wondering. Leave you to allow your imagination to figure it out for you. I also agree I may have liked it so much because I haven't read any Stephen King books and didn't pick up on the tie ins. But overall, slow start but really liked it. Rambles over..
Didnâ€™t like this book at all! It was super slow, and didnâ€™t flow well at all. And did anyone notice that it was sort of a rip off on Stephen Kingâ€™s â€œItâ€ at times? They literally use the â€œdead lightsâ€ to describe Seanâ€™s eyes - I mean come on, thatâ€™s a direct quote from when King describes the clownâ€™s eyes in â€œIt.â€
I resigned up for BOTM bec I wanted to read this book so bad. I love Stephen King's IT and a facebook ad likened this book to IT. I HATED CHALK MAN. Sloppy, forced, strewn together. Just because someone is a klepto they will steal a human head and successfully keep it until adulthood?? The idea was great but the execution was terrible. I felt like the characters were forced into doing things to further the story, but there was no characterization to back up doing so. Like the author needed to end the book and did so in a way that could attempt to tie the loose ends. Like Nicky's dad being a man of cloth, yet a child abuser, child molester, and a murder. Felt like a huge stretch to me. Ugh!! I am giving BOTM another month and then may cancel again. This book was such a let down.
Iâ€™m pretty lukewarm on this book, it was a fun read but I didnâ€™t love it or feel too connected to it.
But. Um. Any one else horrified at Ed keeping a decapitated head under his floorboard for 30 years?
I am stumped by all the amazing reviews to this book. My friend and I both picked it as our selections - she loved it, I did not. I never felt invested, or really cared to know what happened. I just felt as if I were pushing through to finish it for the sake of finishing.
I also felt like I finished it with so many unanswered questions! Reading through some of the other discussion comments below, it looks like I missed some subtle answers but I felt like there were so many characters just kind of thrown together that didn't make a real difference in the story. Like the actual Chalk Man - Mr. Halloran (or whatever his name was), was he just thrown in there to throw us off? I felt like his character didn't really serve a purpose for the story.
I did like the writing style and the quickness of the book, but I sadly did not enjoy it.
Spoilers in advance: Iâ€™m struggling with a couple of plot holes in the book. Who drew the chalk men in the church and carved the wings into the reverendâ€™s book? Are we to assume it was Ed? If so, how did he end up at the church that night? And if it wasnâ€™t him, then who?? So hung up on this detail!
I know a lot of people feel that this book is not very good based on these reviews; however, I have different feelings towards this book. Yes, Tudor definitely took a lot from King (I rolled my eyes when I saw the name Holloran especially since there isn't much resemblance between the two characters) but I think that this book still had redeeming qualities. A lot people seem to hate the shallowness of the characters but I think that was the point. These characters aren't supposed to be deep and the reader isn't supposed to be connected to them. Even as we follow through Ed's story we miss what motivates him to act or think the way he does because that is not his character. We are going through the story as detectives. We are analyzing the event to solve a crime and Ed is the only narrator we have. We aren't emotionally connecting to the characters as friends because as a lot of people pointed out Ed never truly saw these people as his friends. Ed is a loner and outsider, even as a kid he said he was never as close to the guys as they were to each other. So, we aren't going to connect to the periphery characters much because the story is told from someone who never had that deep of a connection to those characters. A lot of the story is told as facts with little inclination into the emotions/motivations behind the characters because Ed doesn't pay attention to emotions he drowns his own feelings and thoughts in alcohol. If you like emotional characters then you won't like this book but we have seen similar lacking connections in King (Ben and Susan in Salem's Lot for example- where did the deep love between those two begin? They met and Ben was head of heels despite the reader not knowing much about their connection, let alone much about Susan besides that she doesn't get along with her mom). I think this book was written more as a fast paced detective book not as a Stephen King epic. I love Stephen King and yes I saw the connections to his work but I don't think Tudor was trying to write or be like Stephen King. I think she was "tipping her hat" so to speak to his works and using similar personalities to write a different story about those personalities King has created. So, I agree if you are looking for a thrilling chilling book with deep characters and twisting plots and a large set-up that connects through seemingly unconnected story lines then this book isn't for you. If you are looking for a short mystery about a strange event and don't mind a slightly dark character telling the story then you might enjoy this book.
Alright, now I've finished the novel and I've got a lot of thoughts about it. I agree with previous comments that if you're not familiar with Stephen King's work, and just want an interesting mystery, then you'll probably enjoy it. The writing is shlocky and fast paced, with chapters and scenes often ending on dramatic cliffhangers ("Not until they arrested my father for attempted murder"). And hey, right now stories set in the 80s that pay homage to Stephen King or Are Stephen King's stories are popular, so I don't blame someone for enjoying something that's more of the same. The Goodreads reviews for this book are stupidly positive, so I'll assume a lot of people will enjoy the book and that's fine.
But I think that's really my critical problem with this book. It's just more of the same. It doesn't help that I'm reading IT and the Turn of the Screw right now, because the book can be compared to both. To start, we have a badly lifted cast from IT--and you know, IT has a lot of stereotypes, but it came out in the 80s, and maybe those characters weren't such archetypes back then. More to the point, you can tell King loves each of those kids (except maybe Stan), and he writes them with loving detail. Richie is offensive but funny, Eddie is nervous but surprisingly brave, Mike is the lowkey badass of the group, etc etc etc. King writes out long sections where the kids just do stuff together, like build a dam, a fort, etc. and he lets you enjoy those moments. So you come to really care about the kids, and worry about them, and believe in their friendship.
I didn't believe any of these kids were friends. To start, they all hated Mickey, and there's no real scenes to show us why they might have been friends. There's also not much to show why they're outcasts. Why is Fat Gav funny? We're told he's funny, but...I can't recall a single charming scene with him, just one where he's clearly a dick to Halloran about his birthday present. The fact that the kids all live so near each other as adults but don't spend time together contributes to this coldness. I'm glad Ed got to hug Nicky a few times, that was a well written relationship. I'm disappointed that a female author wrote the only female member of the group as an abuse victim with nothing else about her personality. Also, I'm glad the psycho cat was introduced to be literally just one lame jump scare in the book.
Moving on, the other thing is the book wants to play with memories and mental illness and an unreliable narrator. That's where Turn of the Screw comes in. On the one hand, you kind of believe the narrator in that story because some of the things that do happen are too fantastic to be made up. But after awhile, you notice her lack of sleep, isolation, and her increased paranoia, how it feeds and justifies even more drastic steps. You sort of agree with her, but you also see how she's nuts and it makes the story compelling. Here, it's not done anywhere near as well. By no means should every plot device be written the same, but this wasn't really effective. (1) Altzheimer's and dementia are terrible, but not murderous. Comparing the two doesn't really justify thinking that maybe Ed really did awful things. (2) Ed still doesn't have a reason to do everything. Maybe he mutilated the Reverend, but that's the farthest I'd believe. Just cause he sleepwalks doesn't mean he'd be capable of overpowering and dismembering Elisha so cleanly as a 12 year old, especially when there's doesn't seem to be a reason for it. (3) If you cut out the Reverend and pin things on Ed, the whole story becomes mush. There's no structure to even go--ok now I see what could have happened (4) Most of the reveals are that small actions can lead to horrific results. There's also a lot about karma in the book, and how actually being a good person is more important than being a pious one (Damnit is that an overused trope that was a boring reveal). Ed having done more violent things undermines this b/c it's not connected at all. Also, the Reverend plot was terrible. Abuse is terrible, and it's really childish to read about it in such a shallow, meaningless way. Religious hypocrites suck, and tend to project. Groundbreaking. And I don't believe for a minute that the nurses at some decrepit facility in a small town would lie about the Reverend's health for funding. I mean, what the hell? That's stupid.
At the end, Ed was too creepy to really like, and you felt like him being alone made sense. It also meant that it was effort to read that last chapter. After getting whodunnit, I didn't care enough about Ed to finish his story and had to force myself to read it. If he's possibly a more murderous character, at least make him someone I could relate to, so learning the truth challenges my opinions (like Silent Hill 2, which does exactly this with James Sunderland).
Like I said, there's good, even great things about this book, and I'm not trying to take away from anyone who enjoyed it. But this book is so cold and shallow, especially compared to what it's so blatantly copying, that it's something I know I'll forget. Insert memory joke twist ending here.
I couldn't help but go into this with Stephen King on the brain. The summary alone brought up thoughts of his novella The Body (which the film Stand by Me is based on). Not a big deal, as I figured this would be wildly different. However, I was extremely disappointed that within first 5 pages, I knew Tudor's cast of characters were clearly inspired by The Losers/It, and that proved correct for a number of reasons as the story went on:
The more the clinic/abortion protesting was brought up, the more I was reminded of another Stephen King book I read: Insomnia. Protests against abortion were essentially a cover for a much larger plot in that book, and I found that to be the case with The Chalk Man, as they were basically a cover for the Reverend's deviancy. I also came to find the late Sean Cooper's dream visits and warnings to Eddie were reminiscent of a scene in Pet Semetary. In that book, leaves/twigs/etc. were also left behind, implying that maybe dreams may not have been dreams at all.
Pages could have been shaved off if Tudor had cut out some of her descriptions. She kept trying to reinforce Eddie's thoughts with such excess at times. I.e.: "It covered some of the bruises on her legs. Nicky always had bruises. I don't remember ever having seen her without a brown or purple mark somewhere. Once, she even had a black eye." Okay, we get it! She also constantly reiterated when something bad was about to happen, completely sabotaging any element of surprise she was trying to create. The scenes that were written to incite fear in the reader read like something worse than a B-Horror movie script.
A number of elements were very predictable. I knew something would happen to Murphy the second he was introduced (because what other reason is there to bring a dog to a funeral?). Eddie was set up to be an unreliable narrator and his dadâ€™s Alzheimerâ€™s was just a ploy to distract the reader into thinking maybe Eddie's forgetfulness could be tied to that OR that he was a killer/criminal and was blacking it all out. That failed for me because it was overdone. And why else would Eddie note the lack of "safety and security" on the windows at the convalescence home if the Reverend wasn't going to escape (and why would he feel the need to escape if he wasn't the killer?)? Eddie having kept the head the entire time was not a surprise twist. Just like bringing the dog to the funeral, there was no need to make him such an odd collector and kleptomaniac and have the story end without that meaning anything. I believe it was even mentioned he had animal skulls. That was a clear foreshadowing that he would have Elisa's head.
It was annoying that, after mentioning all these wild events that shaped the kids lives, they ended up being explained away with such contrived things. So Hoppo's mom probably killed Murphy because she ironically had a similar illness to Eddie's father. So maybe Hoppo spiked Mickey's drink out of anger, yet Mickey couldn't tell he was intoxicated at all (what?!) and drove anyway, and of course Hoppo had to kill him because he didn't want that info getting out. The appearance of the Chalk Men drawings were never explained for many of the instances they appeared, and I figured it was because Tudor realized too late that an explanation couldn't be invented for everything she wrote. Also, you mean to tell me the reverend had hidden an axe and overalls that no one found in the woods for THIRTY YEARS?
All in all, this was an extremely disappointing read, quite possibly the worst thriller I've come across. Had it not felt like such a blatant rip off of Stephen King (this was hardly an homage to his work) then maybe it would get a 2-star review out of meâ€“not 3 because the story itself wasn't goodâ€“but I'm going to have to give it a 1.