Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: September 2011
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Fairy Tale
My Rating: 10/10 Perfection
Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.
This book made me ugly cry. Like full on had to put the book down bawling. I haven’t cried at a book for a long time, but I suppose I haven’t read a book that’s this beautiful and heartbreaking in a long time.
I borrowed A Monster Calls from Juliet with slight skepticism. I don’t like fantasy as a general rule (apart from Harry Potter, of course!), so I didn’t think this would be my sort of thing, but having read it, it’s not fantasy really. At least, not in the normal sense of the word. This is a children’s book, and it reads like a children’s book but not in a way that it’s not relatable or childish. It has the fairy-tale elements of a book for much younger children, with an intelligence in the language that brings it back up to the correct reading age. There’s something very comforting and reminiscent in the subtlety of the storytelling and the emotion running throughout.
Essentially, this book is a representation of the inside of a child’s mind during great tragedy. We know what is going to happen, and it is no surprise when it comes, however this doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. The beauty is more in the storytelling, rather than the story itself. The descriptions and language used paint the most elaborate picture in your mind. You can see and feel the monster stood in front of you, as if it is really there. It’s impossible not to be moved by something as powerful and stunning as this.
On a practical note, I finished this book in no more than a few hours. It’s 240 pages long and reads really easily. I suppose, as it’s a children’s book, the text is reasonably large and well spaced, so it’s probably more like 150 pages in real terms. This is the first book I’ve read in a long time where I spent the day at work watching the clock so I could get back to it.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to absolutely anybody. Don’t do what I did and think of it as fantasy, just think of it as a beautiful story. I can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t enjoy it.
I don’t often give books 5 stars, or 10/10.In fact, I have only given that rating to one other book this year (The Help by Kathryn Stockett), and that was back in January! I am now really excited to read more of Patrick Ness, and I implore you – PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!