Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Published: 05 May 2011
Format: Paperback 216 pages
General ISBN 13: 9781406334906 ISBN 10: 1406334901
Patrick Ness is one of my favourite YA authors, and with this illustrated edition of A Monster Calls he’s become the first author of young adult fiction to be read by my reading group. For the last year the group’s been hesitant to read young adult fiction, but I had faith this book would sway some of them, but I never suspected it would be a hit with everyone! It’s the first book of 2014 we’ve all considered brilliant. The group finally agree the young adult genre can have a lot to offer – in terms of subject matter, writing style and compelling characters.
A Monster Calls is based on a premise left by author Siobhan Dowd before her untimely death. The main character, Conor, is remarkably calm when he faces down a monster – in the form of an ancient yew tree – that crashes through his bedroom walls a little after midnight and returns time and time again. Conor tells the monster he’s seen worse, and each time the monster calls the stories it tells – and the emotions Conor feels -become darker . The monster’s visits parallel Conor’s real life as it begins to spiral out of control, blending nightmare and reality so close together it’s difficult to separate one from the other.
Jim Kay’s illustrations enhance the story; the layered pen-and-ink artwork wraps around the text, cradling the words in the quieter moments and in more dramatic moments nearly leaping off the page in nightmarish intensity. A Monster Calls delves into the human condition and is ultimately an exploration of fear and loss (and love and acceptance).