The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke #BookReview #BlogTour


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...

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for The Tall Man today, my grateful thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater of random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.
The Tall Man has a chilling beginning as a documentary maker, Federica Sosa recounts her decision to film the story of a horrific murder which resulted in a media frenzy when teenager Amber Banner was tried in court and found not guilty. Her intention, she says, was to uncover the truth behind the headlines and when she admits that the story has haunted her ever since I was immediately hooked; there's nothing I love more than that ominous sense of foreboding that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The narrative switches between past and present with the various strands to the story clearly connected in some way, and utilises email exchanges and diary entries as well as being told from the perspective of various characters. The Tall Man of the title is reminiscent of the Slender Man internet legend as Phoebe Locke explores how modern day myths can be created as stories are eagerly swapped by children either by word of mouth or spread further still online, until what starts as a game becomes twisted as the more vulnerable or easily suggestible are manipulated into carrying out sinister or tragic acts. The first part of the story concerns a group of children in 1990 who learn about the Tall Man, a mysterious figure who takes daughters but can also choose to make a selected few 'special.' This is like a siren call to the youngsters who urge each other to carry out rituals to appease or impress him - but the Tall Man will linger in the shadows for some of them for years. In 2000, new young mother, Sadie may be be suffering from post-natal depression or even postpartum psychosis as she becomes convinced her baby daughter, Amber is cursed and the only way to save her is to flee, leaving the child with her father. The third main strand to the story is set in 2018 as a documentary crew follow Amber on a tour of America as she seeks celebrity status following her murder ritual trial. One of the documentary makers, Greta becomes the conscience of the book; horrified by the tragic events but disturbed by the thought that though she frequently appears to be narcissistic and even cruel, Amber is just eighteen with a complicated background which suggests her cool demeanour hides a damaged young woman.
The terrible truth gradually unfolds as the figure of the Tall Man looms throughout - is he a figment of fevered imaginations or is he lurking in the shadows as Sadie believes? Perhaps equally as frightening however, are the innermost thoughts of the various characters. Each presents a facade to the world which masks their fears and desires as repercussions from the past reverberate through all their lives. They are all flawed in some way; there's a clever ambiguity to the book as readers are led to wonder if a person can be perpetrator and victim and whether there are supernatural forces at play or if the danger really comes from damaged minds.
The creeping sense of dread lingers throughout the novel, with the suspense building slowly until the genuinely shocking conclusion. The ending is pleasingly off kilter with readers left wondering  - 'is it? could it?' even though the truth seems to have been finally revealed. The Tall Man is a superb book - a dark, intelligent and haunting thriller which is absolutely contemporary yet so familiar to any of us who have ever scared ourselves and our friends silly as we shared urban myths at sleepovers or round the campfire. I loved it!

The Tall Man is published by Wildfire and can be purchased here. Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. She lives and writes in London.

THE TALL MAN is Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller and will be published in summer 2018.