A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Book Review | Long Form | Rating – 5/5 | Genre – YA Fantasy

When I started writing out this review I found that there were far too many thoughts on this book. It just wouldn’t have done this brilliant novel any justice. So, here is my first attempt at writing a much longer review than I’m used to, but about one of my favourite books…. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Just a word of warning, there are some spoilers ahead but I’ll make sure to keep them all in a specific section!


The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the month Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had neraly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

(synopsis from the blurb)


This book was brought to my attention years ago when I was browsing through my local Waterstones. It was the book-cover that drew me to it at first; the illustrations (by the wonderful Jim Kay) were sinister and haunting, a monstrous figure walking towards a dimly lit house.

After reading the blurb I was even more intrigued. It was the truth thats what I was left with, a lingering comment that enticed me to read the rest of the book. It wasn’t long after buying that I began reading. Once I’d started I just couldn’t stop.

To avoid waffling, here are my top 3 moments…

SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT!

  • The monster appears
    • The sinister opening sees the Monster visiting Conor for the first time. There isn’t any context yet but the mystery behind his appearance captured my interest. Conor’s lack of fear towards the Monster also opens the question as to what could be wrong with him.
  • Conor’s rage
    • Honestly, this was one of the most intense chapters I’ve ever read in a book. Conor’s building anger has finally come to a boil, with encouragement from the Monster, he destroys his Grandma’s living room. Its not a very long chapter, but after reading it I had to put the book down for a moment, you could feel poor Conor’s anger radiating off the page.
  • The ending
    • Conor must now see his Mother in a state that he has been avoiding the whole book. This was the moment where I could do nothing but cry. Even now just writing about it makes me feel sad. The atmosphere of the chapter and the expression of Conor’s feelings was so realistic and unexpected for a character so young.

NO MORE SPOILERS!

Why do I like it so much?

  • Realistic depiction of a child
    • One of the main reason I praise this book is it’s courage when portraying children as they are in real life. Conor may be young but he still remains complex, there are times when he makes mistakes (as all children do) and he learns from them. Yes, the Monster adds a sense of fantasy, yet the book still makes Conor seem very real.
  • Jim Kay’s illustrations are just beautiful and tragic
    • There are so many books that have gotten much higher ratings in my opinion based solely on the beautiful illurations that Jim Kay creates for them. This book is no exception, I have two versions that offer the most magical gothic drawings that brilliantly

About the author…

Patrick Ness is an award-winning author known for the hit young adult series ‘Choas Walking’. I’m yet to read this triology but after experiencing enjoying what he’s written so far I’ll have to give them a read.

When it comes to ‘A Monster Calls’ he wasn’t the originator of the story, this came from the mind of Siobham Dowd, an Irish author. She started this story by creating the premises and the characters, unfortunately she was unable to complete the book after losing her battle with cancer. The project was then passed onto Ness who was able to complete it in Dowd’s memory.

Finally…

If you hadn’t figured before getting to this point, this is one of my all time favourite books and I don’t see it ever changing. For those who are looking for a unique and gripping book to read i’d definitely suggest this one. If you’re already a fan of Ness’ this would be the perfect next book in his repotoir to enjoy.

If you’ve already read the book let me know what you thought!

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