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The Chalk Man
The Chalk ManDallasSchmidt (4)
Weird

I couldn't stop reading it but it left me with a really weird feeling. I can't really explain why...I love thrillers and true crime especially...but this book left me a little freaked out.

The Chalk ManJillian (32)
Read in One Sitting

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!

The Chalk ManAS (7)
A Good Read

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.

Jillian (32)
I kind of liked how the characters were portrayed. Ed was such a bland, normal person. There was nothing really fantastical about anyone, even Mr. Halloran, who could have been amped up in a way, but even then he was just a normal, regular, Albino guy. I appreciated that. And I do agree, a good quick read, not a great book, but still worth a read since it is so quick!
The Chalk ManBrandiLawson (2)
Read in one sitting!

A great page turner! Highly recommend to anyone who likes suspense and a game of guess who!

Jillian (32)
I also read this in one sitting! I really couldn't put it down!
The Chalk ManAlexandreaHarris (1)
Rambling Review

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..

AS (7)
I agree with you 100%. I was only able to get into the book once I promised myself to keep an open mind. And as someone who has not read King's work, I did not have similar stories to compare The Chalk Man to.
The Chalk ManAustinMills (1)
Not what I expected

Didn’t like this book at all! It was super slow, and didn’t flow well at all. And did anyone notice that it was sort of a rip off on Stephen King’s “It” at times? They literally use the “dead lights” to describe Sean’s eyes - I mean come on, that’s a direct quote from when King describes the clown’s eyes in “It.”

JessiPayne (1)
I don’t think the book was slow. I enjoyed it. HOWEVER... I noticed a ton of similarities to IT. The way it switches back from 10-year-olds to 40-year-olds… IT comes back every 27 years, this fast forwards 30 years later. Both books the majority are a group of boys with one girl who happens to be a tomboy and A redhead. Both books incorporate a rock fight. In Stephen kings IT they build a dam, in the chalk man they build a den… Beverly in IT is raised by a single parent - her father... Nicky is also raised by her father only.. and I also noticed the dead lights reference.
KassandraLethert (1)
I was comparing it to IT the entire time! haha I am glad I was not the only one thinking it.
The Chalk ManRondaPruden (4)
Book

I am just getting to read the book. I hope I like it

The Chalk ManAndieD (8)
Such an anticipointment

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.

Kayla (110)
I did not read the Chalk Man but it was one that was on my "maybe" list. I am sorry to hear that you did not like it. There have only been a few real "let downs" for me that I have received from BOTM. Sometimes there have been books that I loved and others have hated and books that others have loved and I hated. I would really encourage you to keep with your BOTM membership - there are so many other choices and I am sure your next one will be different. Did you select a book for January? I am currently reading the Woman in the Window and it is also a thriller - so far it is really interesting. I hope you find one you like :)
ShannaDavis (6)
I think you should give The Chalk Man a try! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
AS (7)
Oddly enough, Nicky's father's character was the most believable to me.
LauraM (16)
Agree! This book was an anticipointment for me too. All the reviews (on Goodreads and such as well) make it sound amazing but I just didn't like it. However, the two other BOTM picks I've read have been awesome, so I wish you better luck next time!
The Chalk ManAlexandraSavinkina (2)
Um...

SPOILERS

I’m pretty lukewarm on this book, it was a fun read but I didn’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?

AS (7)
I think there are a lot of things about Ed that hinted at various possible mental issues. But I think Ed's obsession with Elisa was brought to light early on in the book and, in all fairness, her accident was the first major traumatic experience he had as a kid. People do weird things to deal with trauma.
MariaMaciel (1)
I knew something was odd with him when he said he liked to “collect things” in special boxes... serial killer and his trophies is what I thought. I personally loved the book. But I keep going back and trying to remember, I know Thomas was the one who beat up reverend Martin but who did the rest???
CymoneRowe (2)
His daughter! They slightly hinted at it because she had the angel wing tatoo
CymoneRowe (2)
Exactly ! I called him keeping the head about midway through the book - it was so odd . I felt like she sort of rushed the ending drawing everything together and Ed keeping the head - come on !
Julie (1)
It is hard for me to get too into a book when there is no one in the book I like or can relate to on any level. I am a high school English teacher who is almost exactly Ed's age; it should have been very easy for me to relate to him the but opposite was true.
The Chalk ManKelsey (28)
So many unanswered questions!

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.

LauraM (16)
I'm really confused as to why everyone loves this book so much too! Like the top 20-30 reviews on Goodreads are all super positive but I just thought it was... meh. The first half dragged and things got a little more interesting in the second half, but there were some unanswered questions and some dumb things - like throwing in the cat-sitting for just one "scary" scene. I also wasn't really surprised by any of the twists... I've never read Stephen King but I see a lot was "borrowed" from him in this book too. Just don't understand so many and such positive reviews for this!
Mandy911 (1)
I didn't like it at all, I stopped reading it toward the middle.
The Chalk Mansameverit (1)
Am I missing something?

Spoilers in advance: I’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 reverend’s book? Are we to assume it was Ed? If so, how did he end up at the church that night? And if it wasn’t him, then who?? So hung up on this detail!

LauraM (16)
I think we were supposed to get that Nicky carved the wings and drew the chalk men in the church after PC Thomas and his friends beat the reverend... but I agree that it was pretty confusing, and maybe kind of out of character for Nicky. I am confused about who drew the drowning chalk man in Ed's driveway after Sean drowned... were we supposed to think it was Ed while he was sleep walking/lucid dreaming?
AS (7)
I guessed Nicky drew the chalk men at the church to get back at her dad. The rest of the drawings were Ed. There were 2 instances when he had chalk in his pocket without remembering preceding events. I think he would sleep-walk when over-stressed.
CatrinaMagee (3)
I totally agree with this. I know a lot of people are looking for cut and dry answers to every strange thing that happened in this story but my imagination enjoyed the reading between the lines and "subtle hints." This is how I knew I was invested into the story, figuring things out on my own. Not everything mind you, but I really liked this one.
Kaitlin (22)
Right after I finished the book I told my husband the author used a cheap excuse to get away with the plot holes... The main character talks about how there aren't always answers blah blah blah.... THAT'S NOT HOW THIS WORKS! You can't just not figure out how to close some plot holes by having the character say there are plot holes... ugh.
samishoward (27)
Nicky carved the angel wings and drew the chalk men on the reverend's back as retribution for the suffering he caused her by abusing her as she grew up. This is revealed subtly when Ed meets Nicky in Bournemouth at the cafe. She has a tattoo of angel wings as a "tribute" to her dad and she says she knew the chalk men desecrating the church would upset her dad more than being beaten even.
LindsaySoulsbyJohnson (3)
Yes! I agree with SAMISHOWARD I was going to reply the same thing! The tattoo on Nicky is a subtle hint to your answer!
Kelsey (28)
I was also very confused by this... I feel like I finished the book with SO many unanswered questions!
The Chalk ManVictoria (2)
A Different Take

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.

The Chalk ManJamalT (18)
Chalk Man Missing A Heart

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.

soundslikeliar (19)
I agree, and like most readers, I found the blatant copying of King annoying - I mean, Halloran? She literally lifted a name from one of his most famous books. I also got the IT vibes and I found all the reveals pretty underwhelming. I also found Nicky problematic; I would have liked to see more fleshed out/stronger female characters. It sort of felt like the author wanted to combine all these different plot devices and characters and mental diseases and what we ended up with was a stereotypical mish-mash of clutter. I didn't connect with or like any of the characters and while it was a fast, interesting read, ultimately I found it very lacking.
The Chalk ManChelsea (21)
Huge fan of Stephen King? Don't read this book.

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:

  1. The story takes place during childhood and present times.
  2. Fat Gav is clearly based on Eddie Kasbrack but in Ben Hanscom's body.
  3. Hoppo, who had Romani ancestry, was Tudor's equivalent to Mike Hanlon.
  4. Nicky was clearly based on Bev, right down to being a redhead and having an abusive father.
  5. The regular hangout of the woods was inspired by The Barrens.
  6. The rock fight with Sean Cooper's gang mirrored the rock right with Henry's gang (and that fight was an extremely important scene in It).
  7. The sexual molestation of Eddie in the park reminded me of what happened between Henry and Patrick in the junkyard.
  8. Eddie became an English teacher/Mickey was surprised he wasn't a writer. Bill, whom Eddie is most definitely based on, was a writer.
  9. The unneeded use of the adjective 'dead light' when it came to Sean Cooper.

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 dad’s Alzheimer’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 me–not 3 because the story itself wasn't good–but I'm going to have to give it a 1.

BD894 (3)
Completely agree with everything you said here! As I was reading I even kept notes on my phone regarding the similarities in her novel to that of Stephen King, many of them the same ones you listed here. In my opinion, it was almost borderline plagiarism! You can't just directly take scenes from other books (i.e. the rock fight) and put them in your own book! Use your own creativity and artistry to craft your own unique scenes and plots. Just because you are largely inspired by someone, doesn't mean that you steal their work. Also, in contrast to what you said about Hoppo killing Mickey because he didn't ever want anyone to find out that he was the one to drug his drink, I think that was a ridiculously weak reason to MURDER someone. What proof would Mickey even have had that Hoppo did indeed drug him? He himself was never able to prove it, he always just said he thought that it happened. And then the reasons behind the drugging in the first place are also quite weak themselves- you're going to go to the trouble of drugging someone, potentially resulting in them dying, just because they're a huge jerk and stole your girlfriend??? Just because someone sucks doesn't mean we go around and start drugging/killing them! (I suppose this was still prior to the point when he realized it was his mom who poisoned Murphy and not Mickey, but still). One thing that they always tell you when you're writing is to not kill someone off just to kill them off. Tudor definitely presented the apparition that all of the kids were in danger of being picked off one by one, but when we finally learn why Mickey was killed, it is completely anti-climatic and honestly just makes Hoppo look like a psycho, because what a drastic thing for him to do when after nearly 30 years and with no evidence, I am sure no one ever would have found out what he did (unless his motive was actually that he didn't want Mickey to write a book about everything that happened that summer, although I think that is still a weak motive). Lastly, I think it is unfathomable that the reverend could actually talk and walk this ENTIRE TIME yet pretended for THIRTY years that he couldn't. No one could put on that show for 30 years!! That is just stretching it way too far. And even if he was pretending and the hospital staff kept it quiet so they could continue to get funding from the church, there is no way that it would have been kept secret all those years. It would have gotten out somehow, eventually. Despite all of this, I still enjoyed reading it and didn't put it down until I had finished. If you are not a fan of Stephen King and know nothing of the similarities, it probably wouldn't bother you at all and you'd like it just fine. P.S. Referencing Mr. Halloran's quote about karma, I think that Hoppo nearly getting his arm chopped off and losing nearly all mobility in it, was symbolic karma for what he did to Mickey. No matter how much of his own karma Mickey deserved, I still think Hoppo took it too far. I'm sure he won't be using that arm to drug any drinks or push anyone into rivers now!
CerebroCaro (49)
I took it more as karma for what he did to Fat Gav (a lost arm for his lost legs), but either way I totally agree that it was a ridiculous overreaction on Hoppo's part.
BD894 (3)
Ooo, good point! I hadn't even thought of that.
BD894 (3)
Ooo, good point! I hadn't even thought of that.
CerebroCaro (49)
I definitely agree about the too similar casts (I was even picturing the It cast as I was reading). I also agree that some things were made too obvious and were too repetitive at times. I was genuinely surprised by Hoppo's involvement in any of the wrongdoings though so I think that saved it a bit for me.
Chelsea (21)
I'm not sure that saved it for me just because it seemed more like Eddie's speculation and Hoppo admitted to nothing. That bit just felt like it was thrown together.
CerebroCaro (49)
That's true
CerebroCaro (49)
JamalT (18)
THANK YOU. I'm not through with the novel yet, but I literally messaged my friend a long rant about how this book was just IT minus the clown. I'm still going to finish it, and I'll revisit what I wrote on here at that time, but thank you so much for validating that it's just copying parts of Stephen King's work without really twisting it (like Stranger Things does) into something truly unique.
KaseyBaril (28)
Ooof. I didn't pick this book for my month's selection; however, definitely not adding it to my 'to read' list. Unfortunate that they book has so much likeness to Stephen King's works.