You’d think the appearance of a monster calling your name would be frightening. But Conor is not at all scared. Instead, he is disappointed. This was not the monster he had been expecting and fearing. He tells the monster to shout as much as it wants, he has seen worse. He is not afraid. But the monster promises that he will be, before the end.
By the next morning, Conor has convinced himself it was all a dream, until he sees the carpet of yew tree leaves on his bedroom floor. The monster returns the next night and tells Conor that he will continue to visit. He has come to tell Conor three stories. In return, the monster will demand the truth from him.
Patrick Ness has brought to life a powerful story conceived by Siobhan Dowd before her death in 2009. Dowd had created the characters, premise and the beginning of what would have been her fifth book. Ness was asked to complete the book. Rather than attempting to recreate Dowd’s voice, Ness set out to write a book that Dowd would have liked. Jim Kay’s dark and evocative illustrations create a real sense of atmosphere, bringing the horror to life for the reader. The monochromatic images have an incredible sense of texture and a sense of depth that draws the viewer into the scene.
The monster, based on the legendary Green Man, is quite frightening. But as the story progresses, we discover that sometimes the scariest things are the secrets that we hide from ourselves. We can create our own monsters that are far more horrifying than those born of legend. A Monster Calls is a truly amazing and moving book. The ending came as no surprise, but its impact was no less for being expected. I admit, I cried.