Graphic Novelty²


CJ Tudor

The Chalk Man

After recently loving C.J. Tudor’s new short story collection A Sliver of Darkness, I decided to listen to her debut book The Chalk Man on audio. She has now vaulted to my top 5 horror writers!

Eddie and his four friends are typical young teens in an English village in 1986 when a day at the fair changes all their lives forever. A piece of ride equipment falls off and maims a young woman standing nearby Eddie, so a new teacher and Eddie provide first aid until the paramedics arrive. His connection with the albino teacher (cruelly nicknamed the Chalk Man by his students) sets off a chain reaction of events that is still reverberating thirty years later.

The book alternates between the modern day when Eddie is a bachelor teacher, still living in his childhood home and teaching at the school he had attended years ago. Still friends with two of his chums, two had moved away, when one of these friends comes back to meet up with Eddie for dinner. When this friend turns up dead afterward, and strange chalk man drawings are found, Eddie reminisces about that pivotal summer thirty years earlier when other deaths occured.

As the book progresses you learn more about that summer after the fair, as the friendship between the five begins to splinter, and how one of them is involved in a scandal concerning their father who is vicar of the local church. Eddie’s parents tie into that as do others in their small town. Some details aren’t fully connected until 2016, as their lives have braided together in unhealthy and complicit ways. What you might assume is a supernatural story, becomes more realistic as you see everyone was somehow involved, without anyone person knowing the full truth of what was going on with the others.

A nasty little twist is revealed in the concluding pages, not truly changing the secrets revealed earlier, but putting a gruesome bow on Eddie’s story. This story, plus the short story collection I read earlier this month, make me want to seek out even more books by Tudor!

A Sliver of Darkness

I loved this horror short story collection by C.J. Tudor! Several of the stories are set in a post-apocalyptic world, and the author pulls you into each story with realistic details but then capably takes you in a new direction.

End of the Liner

In an apocalyptical future, most of humanity has survived on cruise ships, for those who had been rich enough to afford to do so. Fifty years have passed on a Disney-esque ship, and Leila reminisces about her rebel daughter Addison who abandoned the ship and tried to make it to shore, not knowing what awaited her there. Leila and the other survivors are forced to conform and are always watched, but are given an unrealistic but safe environment. When Addison reappears to whisk Laila away to land, Laila realizes perhaps the artificiality of the ship is better than the hard reality of life on shore.

The Block

A group of foolish British teens break into an abandoned apartment building and discover an otherworldly horror.

Runaway Blues

A widowed man reminisces about his courtship years in the 1970s and how he and his girlfriend (later wife) would frequent a blues bar for the music. An unlikely musician befriends them, and the couple later suspects the singer of killing his girlfriend when she cheats on him. There is a twist at the end, but wait, there is yet another nasty surprise in the last paragraph!

The Completion

A narcissistic realtor thinks he has the deal of a century when he believes an old man will sell his property to him to be redeveloped. There is an odd reveal at the end, and I was unsatisfied with how this young man seemed to escape justice.

The Lion at the Gate

A group of teens see a lion mural and discover it comes to life. Not all the friends survive.


Gloria is a character found in the book The Hiding Place written earlier by the author. She is a hit-woman who retains a bit of morality, although the ending is ambiguous as to what decision she will make regarding her newest assignment. This story makes me want to check out the novel!

I’m Not Ted

This story has a Twilight Zone vibe, as a man is given chance after chance to make the right decision.

Final Course

A widowed father is invited to a country estate by an old college friend and he and his blind daughter join his friends in this murder mystery story. The father and daughter duo are hiding a very dark secret.

The Copy Shop

An unsatisfied wife discovers a special shop that makes copies that are even better than the original. I was pleased that this story was on the lighthearted side, instead of giving the reader an ugly conclusion.


A seaside vacation for a jilted woman turns out to be quite hellish, as a dark reason for her being there is revealed.

Butterfly Island

In a post-apocalyptic world, some survivors think a nearby island might be the sanctuary they need. Two boatloads of adventurers head out, but of course, the island is not what they expected. The survivors are faced with a no-win situation and grapple with the few choices left to them. The author indicated that she plans to turn this unfinished short story into a novella. I was intrigued- so I hope she does asap.

I love discovering new (to me) authors, so I will certainly be checking out other books by her!

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