A Monster Calls / Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: Fantasy, Middlegrade, YA, Fiction

Publisher: Walker Books, September 27th 2011 (first published May 5th 2011)

Pages: 226

Synopsis: The monster showed up after midnight. 8621462As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth. 

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd—whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself—Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.


This is going to be a shorter review than I usually write, in part because I have virtually no criticism for this book, and in part because I firmly believe that nothing can do this book justice other than the book itself. When I picked up A Monster Calls, I expected to dive right in to a story about a boy who is visited in the night by a monster, but what I got was so much more. Patrick Ness explores the very truths that make us human, and the complicated emotions that threaten to consume us.

Told from the point of view of thirteen-year-old Conor, we get a perspective of someone struggling to figure out why bad things happen in this world. We root for him and we feel his pain. Though it is classified as a children’s book, my adult heart is aching.

Though the novel itself was fantastic, what really made it an experience was the beautiful illustrations by Jim Kay, who used everything from beetles to breadboard to create the unique textures seen on the novel’s pages. 

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Not a single word is wasted in this story. Every moment leads us to the profound truth of the ending: a climax that had real tears brimming the edge of my eyes. A Monster Calls is a beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated novel about grief, loss and death. It is undoubtedly a book that everyone should read. One that will definitely stay with me long after I have closed the cover. 

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