Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Walker Books, 2011
I read this book in a day and if you don’t have time to read the rest of this, I’ll tell you now. It is an excellent novel, one definitely picking up, especially if you have suffered a loss. The first thing that grabbed me about this book was the brilliant reviews I had read, well, everywhere. Then, when I went searching for it in the library I was bowled over by the exceptionally dark illustration on the front. The front cover was not the sort of thing I’d expect on a novel for YA. But it had me gripped by the throat. The stirring illustrations continue inside and really add another level to the story, strengthening the already taught atmosphere.
The ominous figure on the front of the novel is a monster who shows up after midnight. But this isn’t the monster that Conner was expecting to meet, the monster in his nightmares. The monster that started coming after his mum stared her treatments for cancer. This monster, in the shape of a yew tree, is different. This monster hunting for a truth that Conner is unwilling to expose. This novel is not gothic and sinister, as the front cover would lead you to believe. It is touching, sad and real. The original idea for the book came from Siobhan Dowd, who unfortunately died of cancer before she had a chance to write the book. Having that in mind when you are reading hauls up all sorts of emotions. Be prepared for an heart-rending journey, one that will stay with you.