Title: The Tall Man
Author: Phoebe Locke
A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.
1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.
2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.
2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.
Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.
He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…
The Tall Man is a creepy, tense story of psychological suspense and impending horror. It’s gripping – I couldn’t put it down and read until the early hours, immersed in Phoebe Locke’s atmosphere and addictive writing. It’s hard to believe this is her debut, because the plot and characters are really well crafted.
Firstly, I thought the mix of the possible ‘supernatural’ with the story’s doubt around which characters are trust-worthy, made this novel have a satisfyingly jumpy feel. I was so intrigued as to whether this legend is all a figment of over-imaginative young minds, or whether there’s some truth in it… it’s the kind of eerie tale passed from generation to generation which should have you thinking twice about offering anything up to a mysterious man who can ‘make you special’…!
The various narratives, showing different timeframes as well as some characters at different points in their lives, provides some great surprises and things I didn’t see coming, and they had me excited to try and work out how they would link together – if at all. Why did Sadie abandon her daughter and go missing for all those years? Why was Amber on trial for murder – and did she really do whatever she was supposed to have done, despite getting off the charges? I love that feeling, when reading a book, of trying to second-guess how it all might fit together – and (for me) then usually getting it wrong, but I always enjoy the process anyway!
The modern-day story was strange in many ways, as it provides quite a different feel – you’re suddeny back with the documentary crew trying to make a film about Amber, and you see her as she’s grown up and wonder exactly what happened. This part of the story, because it focuses on people outside of the family and Sadie’s friends (ie. documentary maker Greta and the crew she works with), feels more ‘normal’ than the other parts, but there’s still that strong sense of mystery and the unknown. I also liked this narrative as it feels like the part where we as the reader is going to get the most answers!
I don’t want to give too much away about this novel so I’ll stop this review here, but if you’re looking for an original thriller/ mystery/ horror that is quite likely to leave your mind on edge, I’d definitely recommend this. Above all, it’s a really fun, well-crafted read that makes you want to keep turning those pages, whatever the time, right until the end!