Chalk by Paul Cornell 

Andrew Waggoner has always hung around with the losers in his school, desperately hoping each day that the school bullies will pass by him in search of other prey. But one day they force him into the woods, and the bullying escalates into something more; something unforgivable; something unthinkable.

Broken, both physically and emotionally, something dies in Waggoner, and something else is born in its place.

This is a dark and disturbing read. Dealing with bullying of a young schoolboy at a time when it was accepted as “Horseplay” and teachers would comfortably ignore it or even blame the victim

‘But there’s a sort of boy,’ he continued, stepping closer to me, ‘who’s always going to get picked on, no matter what. In those cases it’s often more the fault of the bullied than the bullying. You take my advice. You don’t want to become one of them.’

The author explores bullying and it’s effects from a variety of angles: the bully, the victim, parents and the cycle of abuse leading to bullying behaviour. 

But this is no ordinary tale of bullying and domestic violence as Andrew’s desire for retribution awakens something ancient in the chalk hills and the story becomes a compelling tale of folk lore.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and it’s treatment of the subject matter was interesting and realistic. The characters were well established and felt “real” and recognizable. The significance of the pop charts felt a bit silly in comparison to the other things going on in my opinion however and really impacted on my enjoyment of the last few chapters.

3.5/5

* I received a free Kindle edition of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *

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