If you haven’t (or even if you have) read any novels by C. J. Tudor previously (The Chalk Man, The Taking of Annie Thorne or The Other People) you are definitely in for treat with her latest, The Burning Girls. This is her fourth novel and the more she writes the better I think she is getting. In my opinion this is her best book yet, a horror story combined with a whodunnit.
Welcome to Chapel Croft, a small village buried in the English countryside and one that is steeped in history. 500 years ago, during the protestant cleansing by Mary I (aka Bloody Mary), eight martyrs were burned to death at the stake, including 2 young girls. 30 years ago, two teenage girls vanish without a trace. Two months ago, the local vicar commits suicide.
After the local vicar commits suicide, Reverend Jack Brooks is given the job of looking after the close-knit flock in the small community village of Chapel Croft. It is a fresh start for her and her 15-year-old daughter, Flo, with a new job, new home and distance from problems they had in Nottingham. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten and is never far behind.
But Chapel Croft is a place of history, superstition, haunted by death and disappearances (past and present), and the ghosts of two young martyrs of 500 years before, and it is a village of deep mistrust of outsiders. Every year around the anniversary of the burnings, twig dolls are made and burned to celebrate The Burning Girls.
Within their first week in the village Flo is plagued by visions of burning girls, they receive sinister and threatening messages and even an old exorcism kit. The past wants to stay buried but someone is determined to bring it in to the present, old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .
The Burning Girls is a really creepy horror story blended with a murder mystery. C. J. Tudor has created a thrilling story that expertly weaves different strands of the plot into an enjoyable and atmospheric read that is very hard to put down, with each page you just want to keep reading to find out what happens next – a bookmark was a rarely used accessory once I picked this book up and started reading, the pages just flew past (along with my day).
For those that have never read anything by C. J. Tudor before, her style is very reminiscent of one of my favourite authors, Stephen King, and her books are very well written and creepy and scary. The Burning Girls is her best yet and is packed with thrills, murder, excellent characters and some really great twisting plot turns.
The book is based around religion and history (although doesn’t preach either), alongside murder and deceit, but has been written so well that the religion doesn’t take over the story or become the central theme. The main character of Rev. Jack is a bit unconventional and real (struggling with her past and as a single parent of a teenage daughter), and the past & present are interwoven expertly. Small village politics, the past and present, the distrust of strangers in a small village mixed together with murder, secrets and lies blend together to create a very interesting and pleasurable story with twists that work very well, but ones that you won’t see coming.
If you want a creepy read to see you through the dark nights, I can highly recommend The Burning Girls. For me, it is definitely the best book C. J. Tudor has written to date and I cannot wait to see wait she comes up with next.
A fantastic, dark and sinister story that really shows off the creepy story writing talent of a very good author.
RRP: £12.99 (Hardback) / £7.99 (Kindle)
Available to buy from Amazon here.