Joe Thorne is back in the town where he grew up. The town that everyone tries to escape from as soon as they can. The town that saw something strange happen to his little sister. One night, many years ago Annie Thorne went missing, taken from her own bed. Searches followed, but there was no trace of the child. Then, strangely, 48 hours later, she returned, refusing to say what had happened to her. Something was different about her, though, and she was no longer the same. Now, it looks as though it has happened again to another child…

C. J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was one of my books of 2018 and so I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into The Taking of Annie Thorne. Set over two time frames, we meet Joe, an unreliable narrator is ever there was one! A teacher with a huge debt hanging over him, he has lied to get his current job and lives in fear of his past catching up on him. We see a different side of him, however, in the past when he is with his younger sister, Annie and also when he encounters a child being bullied. Then, he shows a caring, compassionate side, one that certainly endears him to the reader.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that all is not well in the village of Arnhill and that while some are intent on finding out the secret, there are some who will do anything to stop it from being uncovered. Joe appears to know something of what happened, but the death of another child in the area has stirred up memories of his sister, Annie, and the strange event that happened to her all those years ago. His interest in the case causes problems in Arnhill, with people stopping at nothing to express their displeasure. Just how are they connected and can it help to explain why Annie seemed different on her return to the family home?

The story is told in two time frames: the present and the time when Annie went missing. I always enjoy books that are written in this way as I feel that it helps you to fully understand the characters and explain their actions in the present. The story flows well and moves between the two times seamlessly, never once appearing confusing.

It is easy to see how much the author has been influenced by Stephen King and there is more than a nod to one of his books. Throughout the book, there are signs that there is some sort of supernatural force at play and so the conclusion wasn’t a huge surprise. If fiction involving the supernatural is not your thing, don’t be put off. I am not a big fan of this genre, but felt that the ‘ghostly’ references were minimal and the story was more of a thriller.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is an easy read and I can see it being another huge success for C J Tudor.

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for my copy.