4.5 / 5 Stars
Clever horror/thriller with a touch of the supernatural.
Please note there may be some spoilers!
When Joe Thorne was 15, his 8 year old sister, Annie, went missing. After an extensive search all hope was lost. However, 48 hours later, Annie came back, but different.
Fast forward 25 years, in debt, desperate and lured by a mysterious email echoing the past, Joe has come back to the village where he grew up. A village haunted by its past and its present. Joe has to face up to the people he left behind and confront the things that they did.
CJ Tudor follows up her massively successful debut The Chalk Man, with this 'horror/thriller with a supernatural vibe'. I’d not managed to read The Chalk Man but was grateful and excited to receive an advanced reading copy from the publishers.
Wow, what a page turner. I read this in a few sittings over two days which is unusual for me. Well paced and perfectly plotted with a time line that goes back and forth, but not excessively. It’s a perfect device to help build up the suspense and mystery which is retained throughout.
The main character, Joe, is not particularly likeable, but interesting, yes. He’s massively flawed and searching for forgiveness, answers and maybe revenge. Many of the characters from Joe’s past are equally disagreeable and are great baddies who make for satisfying foils. Foils which help to move Joe’s creepy journey along through the many twists and turns that you can’t see coming, as he searches for answers and redemption.
The character of Annie Thorne is both charming and then, on her return, deeply unsettling. The author has managed to craft a character that gave me the chills. Dolls, creepy kids and horror, equals heebie jeebies!!
I think the author’s great strength is the ability to bring a setting and an era to life. The scenes set in the 90’s, feel like the 90’s. Secondary school feels like how school was, and a small village with a dark secret, feels exactly like that. The village is brought to life so well that it feels like a character. One that is scarred, secretive and full of foreboding.
This is a brilliantly eerie novel that at times chills you to the bone. There’s hints of Stephen King in the writing and more than a nod to 'Pet Cemetery'. It’s gory at times (the author does body-horror unnervingly well) but still remains clever. If you like a good scare, go get it.