The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

This book is being marketed under two different titles/covers and so for the avoidance of doubt you might also know this book as The Hiding Place.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is a tense thriller that gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies.  This is a dark tale, narrated skillfully by an undoubtedly gifted storyteller that will, from the unexpected and rather bloody prologue, worm it’s sneaky little fingernails under your skin until it has a firm hold.

So, let’s start at the beginning, the prologue is incredibly gripping and one that sets the tone well for the rest of the book.  This is tense, the sort of tense  that makes you afraid to turn the pages.  Much like the two police characters who unwittingly stumbled onto this opening crime scene, I simply didn’t know what to expect, I just knew it was going to be bad.  A murder scene with a cryptic message left in bold red letters on the wall.

Meanwhile, an unknown man attends an interview for a teaching job at the secondary school in Arnhill. His CV is a little creative to say the least but he’s quite charming and manages to secure the post.  Not only will he be stepping into the footsteps of a dead woman but he’ll also be occupying the cottage that was left abandoned following the crime scene at the start of the book.  Most people being too squeamish to want to live there it has remained unsurprisingly empty.

The new teacher at the high school is Joe Thorne.  He grew up in Arnhill.  He was bullied at school and in fact eventually joined the gang of bullies himself.  Joe was one of the few who managed to escape Arnhill but now he’s come home, called back to address issues from his past that seem to be repeating themselves and unfortunately, living something of a troubled life in the present, unwanted elements are about to follow him home.

The setting, Arnhill, formerly a mining town, brought low by the pit closure.  Arnhill is a shadow of its former self.  The place has a claustrophobic feel, riddled with unhappy histories between many of the residents and blighted by what feels like a constant stream of bad luck.  This is a place leached of colour and happiness and sat on its outskirts, like a festering sore, is the colliery that once provided a livelihood but now haunts the place.

Now, putting something off limits is often like a red rag to a bull so although the mine has been constantly a no go zone you just know that the young people of the area flock to it like moths to a flame.  Joe and his friends made a discovery there  in their teenage years and although more stringent measures have since been put in place the teenagers of Arnhill are still finding hidden mysterious tunnels into the darkness. Because who wouldn’t want to go down into the scary dark places with the tiny tunnels, suffocating spaces and skittering noises.

Joe is a character with a history.  His sister went missing all those years ago, she returned the day after, but she was never the same and Joe has been suppressing the memories of what really took place.  Coming back to Arnhill is going to bring back painful recollections.  On top of that Joe has been gambling and running up bad debts with the sort of people who take kneecaps first and ask questions later.

This is a story that takes a little time to reveal its secrets but in spite of that there was no dull moments and I found myself glued to the page waiting for the reveals.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, not really criticisms so much as things worth a quick mention. For a mystery/thriller this book contains fantasy aspects and no doubt that will be unpalatable to those wanting a no nonsense book from the genre, my advice would be to give it a shot anyway – I think the book is worth it.  Secondly, it took me a little while to warm up towards Joe, not that I disliked him, just that I wasn’t immediately on board but he undoubtedly has a good character arc and I can’t deny that I fairly quickly started to feel incredibly sorry for him.  My giddy aunt – do not annoy this author, she will write you into one of her stories and make you suffer. I kid you not.  Now, the real elephant in the room (and don’t you dare all look at me) is this book has been touted as very Stephen King-like and yes, I can see that.  Is that a problem – not for me personally but I can’t speak for others.  Without doubt this brought two King classics to mind – but I can’t tell you which because therein lies the land of spoilers.  I apologise that this review is rather vague on the whole but the nature of a mystery is, well, just that, and it wouldn’t be very mysterious if I start dishing out the spoilers.

Anyway, long story short.  This was good.  Stop reading this review and go and read the book instead.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.



Weekly Wrap Up : 17/2/19

I’ve had a fairly decent week this week.  I’ve actually been trying to do quite a lot more walking on a regular basis and I’m quite enjoying that.  I’ve read The Taking of Annie Thorne which I really enjoyed and my review will be up tomorrow for that book.  White Stag – I have mixed feelings about, in some respects I think it was a good read but then I have certain issues.  My review will be posted Thursday so hopefully I’ll have cleared my thoughts by then.  The Orphanage of Gods, well, I’m struggling a little bit to be honest.  I’ve read just over a third but I have questions, a lot of questions and they’re kind of annoying me a little so I’ve decided to put it down for the time being and read something else, clear my mind a little and then return.  I posted another SPFBO review this weekend just gone which means I have three more reviews to post.

My books:

  1. The Taking of Annie Thorne C. J. Tudor
  2. White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Next week’s reads:

  1. The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan
  2. Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter
  3. The Anointed by Keith Ward (one of the SPFBO finalists)

Upcoming reviews:

  1. The Taking of Annie Thorne C. J. Tudor
  2. White Stag by Kara Barbieri

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.