“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” – Goodreads summary
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness [illustrated by Jim Kay] is an beautifully told story, illustrated throughout with pictures, about a boy who gets visited by a monster by midnight. At first upon reading this I have already held this book with high expectations because it is a Patrick Ness book (to understand my obsession with this author please read the Chaos Walking trilogy) and seeing that this book has won both the Carnegie and Greenaway Medal made me all the more anxious to read this. I honestly haven’t read many illustrated books in recent months but I can tell you that these illustrations were absolutely mesmerizing. There wasn’t an overflow of pictures where it became too much but just the right amount, and the black and white coloring made it all the more chilling.
This book is about a boy named Conor who has this frequently recurring nightmare that is never specified until near the end of the novel. At one certain point in the night (12:07 precisely for some reason) Conor is visited by this monster who also happens to be the yew tree that resides on the other side of his backyard. The irony of this all is that you are expecting a vicious terrible creature that comes to terrorize this kid, but in fact it is the monster who helps Conor cope with his problems and face his fears.
The monster who is there to tell Conor three stories and which in turn Conor must tell the monster his story, which is the recurring nightmare. I really enjoyed the themes of the stories the monster told, which made you question moral and the overall feeling of is there good and evil or is everything just a grey area? All the while this happening the story goes through Conor’s everyday life and you discover that his mother is ill. This weighs heavily on Conor and he often feels upset about how everyone treats him differently because of his ill mother (besides the bullies of course) Ness goes on to write a well thought out story about learning to face the truth of yourself. In the span of this short novel you are able to connect with this character you just met and for that I applaud you Patrick Ness. What I do wish is that we were able to see more conversation or background info on Conor’s past friendship with his schoolmate Lily who I really end up liking, which is rare for me in short stories like these.
The conflict between Conor and his grandma I found most interesting because she isn’t your “traditional” grandmother. She is persistent, uptight, always on the move which I found thought provoking. All in all A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is one of those books that anyone can read and fall in love with because of this author’s incredible writing style. Highly recommend this for everyone and this makes a perfect October read.