Review: Chalk / Author: Pat Cadigan / Publisher: This Is Horror / Release Date: Out Now
Chalk is the first of the This Is Horror chapbooks to be written by a female, and it’s a real break from the preceding releases in that it concentrates on something that we all dreamed about and wanted to experience when we were kids. What if you could have some kind of superpower?
The movie Chronicle touched on this and the responsibility that comes with your new-found abilities, but Cadigan dials it right back in to focus on a childhood friendship that is ripped apart.
Dee (no one calls her by her real name of Daffodil) and Mary discover that by using different coloured chalks and drawing different symbols in their local neighbourhood, in certain places they can disappear in plain sight. Quite literally, they can watch people walking by but they can’t see them back.
When Dee really disappears, Mary has no way of finding her best friend and is made to grow up without her. When she returns to the town many years later, Mary discovers that whilst Dee was lost, she very much doesn’t want to be forgotten.
There are elements to the story that come across as similar to King in prose style and technique, especially those involving the girls’ run-ins with a local belligerent matriarchal figure, but handled in a more concentrated fashion. It’s short, snappy, intriguing and engaging; an understated tale of loss and woe – with special powers.