The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

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“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” Carl Jung

Joe Thorne receives an email. “I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.”  Up to his eyes in gambling debts, Joe returns to the mining town of his childhood, to take a newly vacant position as an English teacher in his former school and keep his head down. The town is in a depressing slump after the closure of the pits years ago. But something else is at work in the town. A boy and his mother have been found dead in an apparent murder suicide, but painted on the wall in blood above the boy’s bed are the words “Not my son”. After going missing for two days, Joe’s sister Annie was also not his sister, she was different, darker. As the book unravels and Joe tries to uncover what happened to the boy and his mother, the teacher whose class he now teaches and in whose cottage he now lives, we slowly learn of the strange events of what happened to Annie.

I started this book expecting a regular tale of a kidnapping but Tudor takes this deeper and I am more reminded of Stephen King’s works than that of a standard crime thriller. There’s something supernatural in the air, which Tudor takes her time to reveal. Jo Thorne is a troubled man, not easy to like but you do anyway. After the prologue, the book is narrated by Joe, who treats us to witty asides during conversations but is slow to enlighten us on what happened to his sister. Clearly he’s reluctant to drag up the past but he also wants to put a stop to the forces that are causing history to repeat itself, and takes action into his own hands.

The writing is in part accomplished and evocative, though in other parts a little rough and unpolished, which may just be the character of Joe, educated in literature but rooted in his working class history. After taking it’s time to get going, the book picks up to a dramatic and unexpected conclusion and will be a story that lingers, long after the last page is turned.

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