The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor
When Joe Thorne was fifteen, his little sister, Annie, disappeared. At the time, Joe thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.
Now Joe has returned to the village where he grew up, to work as a teacher at the failing Arnhill Academy. Not an act of altruism, but desperation. Joe has bad debts – and bad people – he needs to escape. He also has an anonymous email: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.
But coming back to the place he grew up, means facing the people he grew up with, and the things they did. Five friends: Joe, Stephen Hurst, Marie Gibson, Nick Fletcher and Chris Manning. They were the five who were there that night. Something they haven’t spoken about in 25 years.
Coming back means opening old wounds, and confronting old enemies and Joe is about to discover that places, like people, have secrets. The deeper you go, the darker they get.
And sometimes, you should never come back.
Published in Hardback & ebook in the UK 21st February 2019 by Michael Joseph
(The US & Canadian version will be published under the title “The Hiding Place”)
Sinister, creepy and told with impressive skill, C.J Tudor has done it yet again in her second book, following on from the cult favourite The Chalk Man released earlier this year. Combining “old school” horror (there’s dolls, there’s beetles, there’s graveyards, there’s witchery) with the twistiest twists, macabre backdrop and many, many secrets. Again, there are elements of Stephen King’s horror/supernatural, and the kind of ghost stories you’d tell your friends at sleepovers, but told in a way that, apart from a few paragraphs, is actually not as graphic as her previous novel in it’s gruesome nature, but more psychological; the fear and terror leaks out of the chapters and fills you with an overwhelming sense of dread. Just magnificent.
If you have read The Chalk Man (and if not then you definitely should, immediately!) you’ll spot some excellent “easter eggs” in this book which I loved and instantly wanted to tweet about them but then couldn’t because spoilers, so that was frustratingly brilliant. Actually, just like The Chalk Man, you want to talk about SO MUCH of this book, your brain frantically left trying to figure out the mysteries and how you feel about the characters (most of whom are pretty unlikeable).
Set in Nottingham (my birthplace), the perfect setting for a horror story, because the scars of industry, particularly collieries, are still visible and relevant in these villages, even when the green hills hide the spoil tips and the pit wheels have flower planters around them. Here are working class communities where families would (and still do) all know each other, and their secrets, are proud of their heritage, loyal, and suspicious of strangers (you only have to check out a few Nottinghamshire “Spotted” pages on Facebook to see this). This all plays beautifully with the idea of returning to a village you’d left behind as a teen in tragic circumstances in the 90’s, as Joe Thorne did. All his old friends, and enemies, are still there, and a terrible secret they shared and hoped had been eradicated, has drawn Joe back. Can he unearth the truth and importantly can he survive it?
Bullies, gangsters, friends, teenage crushes all feature along with a sense of nostalgia, juvenile misadventure and folklore, as well as sheer terror. This book is for anyone that ever explored somewhere they shouldn’t have done with friends as a kid and never told their parents.
I predict this will be a bestseller for 2019 and is ripe for a TV miniseries/drama so add it to your wishlists/preorders now.
Special thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in advance, my review is entirely my own thoughts and written in my own words.