Book Review: Chalk by N.R. LaPoint


The blurb:

Catholic schoolgirl Raven Mistcreek has no memory. Her family is missing, her home is gone, and she is being hunted by monsters. Why do demonic forces want her dead?Is her family still alive? And why do her chalk drawings become real? Across the Qualitative Continuum, levels of reality are sinking lower. A colossal terror lies sleeping. Waiting.


This book is an entertaining mix of whimsy and horror that both channels and goes beyond its apparent influences. It’s like a Catholic anime version of Alice and Wonderland, with the benefit of the dreamlike, insane lower realities making sense in the story’s context rather than coming off as purely nonsensical for the sake of it.


A descent into the mysteries of Raven’s extraordinarily odd situation, weaving intuition and mysterious memory hexes to push Raven deeper into trouble. We ride a wave of increasing familiarity with the world and events right alongside Raven, culminating in an intense and satisfying finale that makes great use of all the elements established during Raven’s descent.

I appreciated that the plot felt concise and direct, and I think this book very much benefitted from its length, where another author could have easily tried to extend it by cramming in every crazy riff on the faery and horror elements they could think of.


Raven comes off as a manic pixie type, with the welcome differentiation that she’s pure-hearted. This actually figures into the plot as well, and may even be a cheeky justification for the encoding of her plot armor into an in-story object. I won’t spoil what that is.

Quick note on the notion of plot armor - I don’t say this pejoratively. All main characters have plot armor - selling it is the author’s job.

Raven is funny, energetic, and heroic - everything needed for a fun romp through hell.

The supporting cast is likewise enjoyable and every character is distinct. The image of a floating, gentlemanly cuttlefish is especially sticky in my brain. 

The banter between Raven and her fox-maiden friend goes a long way toward characterizing each of them and bringing levity to the horrific setting. I’ll have a short note on that banter in Critique.


The writing is good and the overall structure works perfectly at this length, as I’ve already mentioned. There are moments of great prose in describing beauties and horrors, which is exactly where I feel an author should go a little purple.

I didn’t see anything awkward or lackluster, which I think speaks to the book's efficiency again.

If I was to pick Mr. LaPoint’s greatest writing strength besides active imagination, I’d choose the dialog. It’s witty and amusing, again bringing light into the story’s darkness.


Once again I find myself satisfied with the author’s art and there’s nothing huge I could nitpick to my own tastes.

If anything I might say the bantering tangents in conversations, especially between Raven and Kasumi, occasionally went on a few lines too long, simply because I wanted to get back to the unravelling intrigue of the evil plot ahead. I sometimes use that kind of humor myself, and so I did appreciate it for what it was.

This was a very enjoyable book, my favorite element of which was the pitting of goodness, humor and light against evil in all its banal horrors. Get yourself a copy today!

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