This is the first novel written by C.J. Tudor that I've read -for some incomprehensible reason I skipped The Chalk Man- perhaps due to the hype and the plethora of raving reviews that set off an instant suspicion on my part. Anyway, I didn't exactly know what to expect when I started reading The Taking Of Annie Thorne but, in the end, I felt thoroughly satisfied and entertained by this exemplary blend of crime and horror fiction, while, in many instances, the prose of C.J. Tudor and the flow of the text reminded me other acclaimed crime/horror fiction writers such as Stephen King, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and Sharon Bolton.
The whole novel is permeated by a gloomy and sinister atmosphere, hinting supernatural intervention nut never fully acknowledging it, and offers a lot of suspenseful moments during the unfolding of its tightly-woven plot. The protagonist, Joe Thorne, returns to the place where he grew up as a child, in Arnhill where a series of unexplained disappearances, suicides, and homicides have occurred in the past and present. Joe, an expelled school teacher, and a gambler is burdened by the grief of losing his little sister Annie, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared for about 48 hours and when she returned, nobody could recognize her due to extreme behavioral changes she exhibited. Joe has no friends from his past in Arnhill as his old school gang seems to be eager to shoo him away as fast as possible. But Joe decides to stay and face his -old and new- demons.
This is a book that you are bound to read fast, I finished it in only two sittings, as the quality of Tudor's writing style, the creepy descriptions, and the excellent dialogue, compose a read that you shouldn't miss. It is a book that cannot be strictly categorized in the crime or horror genre and it seems to have reached a harmonious balance between the two. I literally couldn't wait to see what happens next and find answers to the novel's big questions and mysteries. The only drawback is that I found the finale to be rather weak and not at the same level with the rest of the book but this couldn't change the overall, more than positive, impression of The Taking Of Annie Thorne. I will definitely check out future works by C.J. Tudor and Ι will try to read The Chalk Man as soon as possible.
I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free ARC of this novel.