I’ve read a good few Patrick Ness books at this point – although The Rest of Us is the only one I’ve reviewed, I’ve also read his Chaos Walking trilogy, which makes A Monster Calls my fifth of his.
I was already inclined towards liking this book. Partially because my friend Kellie is a huge, massive, enormous Patrick Ness fan and was waxing lyrical about this months ago, and partially because I just liked the idea of a story about a monster coming to call.
This predisposition was then augmented by the fact that I won a twitter competition run by the very lovely Walker Books, and got a copy of this (and a whole stack of other books) for free, which was a lovely surprise.
Then this was further augmented by the realisation, when I opened the book, that it’s signed by both author and illustrator. This was clearly a Good Book, and I was going to like it.
The monster showed up after midnight. As 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.
A Monster Calls is also out in cinemas this month – it came out on New Year’s Day, so it’s been floating around my radar for a while.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe A Monster Calls. It’s quite a short book – only two hundred and something pages, and I read it in less than a day. I had to stop shortly before the end because I could see what was coming, and I was in public, so I paused until I could get to the privacy of my home.
It’s a very powerful book. Although nominally about monsters, it’s also about Conor’s struggle with his mother and her diagnosis, and how life has changed in response to this. It’s haunting and beautiful, and the illustrations are dark and eerie, and they add to the atmosphere of the book as well.
It’s not just a sob-fest though. There were some wonderfully light and unexpectedly humorous instances which really added to the book. The sentences were short and choppy and added to the atmosphere as well, while Connor’s snarky sense of humour shone through the pages wonderfully.
I don’t know if the illustrated version of A Monster Calls is an abridged version of the text. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was, because the page count is shorter than the text-only version, and it would, logically, be longer, given the double-page illustrations, if the text was the same. It’s something I’ll have to investigate, as I would hate to have missed out on any of the text, even at the expense of the gorgeous illustrations.
Other than that, though, this was, I think, the best book I’ve read so far this year, and certainly one that I’d happily recommend.