The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor @cjtudor #AudiobookReview #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: C. J. Tudor

Published: January 2021 by Michael Joseph

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, Book Review


500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death

30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace

Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

Single parent Rev. Jack Brooks and her teenage daughter Flo, moved to Chapel Croft ostensibly for a new start, and for Jack a chance to perhaps find some peace. An ‘unfortunate situation’, as described by the residing bishop in her Nottingham parish, resulted in a move neither Jack or Flo wanted to a much smaller parish in rural Sussex. It was an interim position until a full time replacement could be found. However, no-one had seen fit to mention that the last vicar had committed suicide.

But then there had been the little girl. Ruby. Mum and the church had been splashed all over the papers. That’s when things had taken a turn for the worse.

Jack gets a less than warm welcome from some of the parishioners, including being sent an old and seemingly used exorcism kit from someone unknown, and almost immediately twig dolls and visions of the burning girls begin to manifest. Chapel Croft, idyllic on the outside, but with a bloody and horrifying history, soon begins to show its darker side when Flo sees something unimaginable in the churchyard and secrets begin to surface.

The legend of the Sussex martyrs plays a huge part in the history of the village. The legend goes that two of the eight Protestant martyrs took refuge in the chapel but were betrayed, caught, then tortured and killed. The women are said to haunt the chapel and appear to those in trouble.

I love that Jack is far removed from the image of a stereotypical vicar. She has a traumatic back story, smokes (although she’s trying to give up), likes a drink and has a tendency to swear. She’s also very good with people, and has a loving relationship with her daughter, who also doesn’t conform to the ’norm’.

Told from different perspectives, including that of an unknown man recently released from prison and hot on Jack’s trail, keeps up the suspense and tension levels.

He is free. After fourteen years. And this time, he isn’t going back. He’s finally got himself clean, done their rehab programme. Kicked the drugs, behaved like a good boy.

A multi layered plot and characters, together with a creepily atmospheric setting, set the scene for Jack and Flo to try and find out what exactly is going on in Chapel Croft. Things are never quite what they seem, and that goes for some of the characters too, as Jack and Flo find out to their cost.

There are plenty of surprises and red herrings to muddy the waters, an intriguing and gripping storyline with a touch of the supernatural, plus a great ending. Wonderful storytelling from CJ Tudor and an excellent narration by Gemma Whelan and Richard Armitage.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Waterstones | Hive Books | Book Depository 

About the Author

C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.
She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.
In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.
While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.
She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

Author links ~ Facebook | Twitter

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