The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke | Book Review | #TheTallMan


Published by Wildfire Books

Available in ebook and hardback (7 June 2018) | Paperback: (18 April 2019)

368 pages

Source: ARC for review from publisher

Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Tall Man.  I first became aware of this book when attending a Headline New Voices event in January and was delighted to find a proof copy in the goody bag provided (and which Phoebe kindly signed for me).  Being invited on to the tour was an ideal opportunity to move it up the book mountain and my thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite.

Phoebe Locke pictured with Joe Haddow and Nick Clark Windo

I have my review at the end of the post but first let’s see what the book is about:



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…


|   My Thoughts    |


“The legend of the Tall Man can be traced back as early as the 1970s. An urban legend which began circulating around schools in England, it has several variants – the most popular is that of a man who murdered his disobedient daughters. This version of the Tall Man can be sought out by ‘good’ or ‘special’ girls – the legend goes that girls who offer presents and subservience will be rewarded with gifts of their own. In some versions of the story, these gifts are powers, while in others, they are guardians – often said to be ‘sent from the shadows'”


The story mainly alternates between 2016 when Amber Banner was 16 years old and in 2018, when at 18 she is taking part in a documentary following her acquittal of murder.  Who was the victim and why.  All sorts of scenarios rang through my mind with my list of possible victims constantly changing.

Amber was just a baby when her mother Sadie left, leaving her husband Miles to bring Amber up alone.  Convinced that she was being followed by the Tall Man, she maintains she left for Amber’s safety.  Her return nearly 16 years later changed the family dynamics – it wasn’t easy for anyone, Sadie especially, as she had to fit in to a family unit already formed without her.

This was a slower paced read which at first I found confusing.  Was the Tall Man real or the product of a delusional and unbalanced mind. As the story progresses however, the tension racks up and by the end I didn’t have any fingernails left.

Amber was not an easy person to like, especially the 18 year old one.  She comes across as being self obsessed and manipulative.  She’s very aware of her worth to the media following the trail and treats the project like her own reality show, running the film crew ragged with her demands.  However for all her diva’ish behaviour, there are glimpses of a vulnerable and troubled young woman still suffering from past events.  On the other hand, the way that these programmes are made is an eye opener when executives and producers cross boundaries  – they will do anything to make the programme a ratings smash – even if that is to the detriment of the subject being filmed.  Emails and diary extracts give an intriguing insight into the background leading up to the trial.

My overriding feeling about this book is how unsettling it is.  Was the tall man story just an urban myth bought into by impressionable schoolgirls, or was there something more sinister at its heart.  It made me think back to my very early childhood when I was told never to go alone in the woods at the end of our road as a bad man lived there who took children.  My parents were either being extremely safety conscious or very cruel!

The Tall Man is an extremely clever and chilling debut.  The supernatural element adds to the darkness of the story and the uncertainty and suspense that surrounds the tale of the tall man are very well done indeed.

A recommended read and I shall be looking forward to future books by Phoebe Locke.


The Tall Man can currently be downloaded from Amazon UK for 99p.



|   Author Bio   |


PHOEBE LOCKE is the pseudonym of full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in London. THE TALL MAN is Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller.


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