A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This heartbreaking story describes the journey a boy is forced to take as his beloved mother struggles with debilitating cancer treatments. Thirteen-year-old Conner has to contend with bullies each day at school, and terrible nightmares nearly every night. Suddenly, a strange looking monster joins his tormentors, appearing each night just after midnight. Since Conner’s too old to believe in monsters, he tells himself it’s just part of his nightmares, but he listens as the monster tells him three disturbing stories, demanding that Conner tell him a true one of his own in return.
This story is clearly not a horror tale, but one about life, death and facing one’s greatest fears. The original idea came from writer Siobhan Dowd, who passed away before being able to write this, her fifth book. Patrick Ness (author of the fabulous Chaos Walking series) says in the author’s note that he felt “as if I’ve been handed a baton, like a particularly fine writer has given me her story and said, ‘Go. Run with it. Make trouble.’ So that’s what I tried to do.” Ness is certainly successful with this book, which is enhanced by beautiful and haunting drawings by artist Jim Kay.
I really enjoyed this book, and need to warn readers that it is very emotional and some of them might need lots of Kleenex before they’re done reading. I recommend this to readers not afraid to look at fear, loss and their place in our lives. This short book packs a powerful emotional message, and can be read over the course of an evening.