A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

By Author / Illustrator

Ness Patrick, Kay Jim


Mental Health & Wellbeing

Age range(s)



Walker Books Ltd








This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, \"A Monster Calls\" is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults. This book is jacketed.


Ben - Age 13

I found that the story line was very dramatic and entertaining while at the same time grim and emotional. I truly felt sorry for Conor but I cant really say I can relate to him. The Monsters Stories are fairy tale-like, but unlike any fairy tale you have ever read! They are twisting ,deceptive and not boring at all!. Whilst reading this novel I particularly enjoyed the pen and ink sketches that accompany the writing. The story and the drawings work perfectly together and provide a good impact. The storyline a gripping one. The Style Ness writes in is easy to understand and reminded me of Paul Jenning' s narrative fresh style. I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to children around my age -13- And older. It's powerful, emotional , funny and scary! I've been searching for books as good as this for a long time and this book fits the bill!

Suggested Reading Age 11+

James - Age 15

The plot is fairly fast paced and engaging because you are always intrigued as to the nature of the monster's next visit, and what he will further reveal about his purpose. Furthermore, the 13-year-old's eerily returning dream is shrouded in secrecy for the majority of the book, which, subsequently, results in an engaging anticipation as to the true meaning, and content, of this 'dream'. Moreover, in between the monster's visits, the unfolding story regarding his mother was both touching and captivating - and although both storylines may have seen detached at points in the novel, they were drawn together in a poignant end, when the monster's purpose and his mysterious words were revealed in relation to Conor's mother. Also, the stories that the monster told Conor were very interesting to read, as they made you consider the moral message behind them, and how this relates to his situation. However, the only thing I might add concerning the plot, is that sometimes the notion of a monster haunting a young boy detracted my thought from the harsh reality of the situation regarding his mum. Some touching parts in the book were not ruined, but did not have the optimum effect on the reader because the introduction of the mysterious monster reduced its poignancy. Elements of secrecy in relation to the monster were cleverly revealed both slowly throughout the book and at the conclusion where most things were brought together. Nevertheless, not everything about the monster was revealed in the conclusion - I was still left wondering what it actually was, whether it was merely a figment of Conor's mind, or really was there. One could argue though that this added to the effect of the book, as although most was revealed, Ness still left some elements of ambiguity to the imagination of the reader. The development of the characters was clear and well written - the slow and tragic deterioration of Conor's mum's health resulted in a gradual but obvious character development. You could clearly witness the effect that his mother's illness was having on everybody, which, as heartbreaking as it was, resulted in perfect character development. His father and grandmother were two essential people in Conor's life, and I could not speak more highly of their role and development in the book. The author's imagery, aided by the spectacular illustrations by Jim Kay, was very impressive - they both made it a joy read as I could easily picture the events unfolding. Also, the style of writing the author chose to give the monster worked incredibly well - it seemed to play a neutral character that spoke with mystery, power and intellect. This book would appeal to anybody who enjoys most teenage fantasy books about monsters, but would appeal even more to those who wish to read something perhaps a bit more touching, real and emotive than many sci-fi fantasies that are in abundance nowadays. Overall, it was a pleasure to read.

Suggested Reading Age 11+


'A Monster Calls' is a masterly piece of writing and is both traumatic and reassuring in equal measure. It examines grief, loss and finally acceptance through the eyes of Conor, a young boy, who is gradually trying to come to terms with the imminent demise of his Mother. Patrick Ness demonstrates a lightness of touch to explore this extremely delicate subject and he is neither sentimental nor patronising in his approach. The use of the 'Monster' is a brilliant technique, whether it be regarded as a real or metaphorical creature is totally immaterial. The Monster helps Conor to confront his true feelings and helps the reader to understand how the death of a loved one can evoke some quite unexpected and challenging feelings.

The stories the monster tells, like many good tales have many twists and turns and add yet another dimension to this wonderful book. Finally, Conor is made to relate his tale/dream and although this might shock some readers will eventually resonant with most. The nature of this revelation is a truly cathartic one and brings to a satisfactory end this undoubtedly sad book.

This book was inspired by an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd and I feel sure that she would endorse wholeheartedly the brilliance of Ness's interpretation and the bringing to fruition of the tiny seed that she planted. An absolutely harrowing, brilliant and amazing book which will remain long in the memory of all who read it, highly recommended but have plenty of tissues close by.

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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