This is a monster story unlike most other stories. From the title and the cover you might think that A Monster Calls is a horror story, and while there is definitely horror here, there’s more tragedy and anguish. I can also tell you that I cried at the end of this book, and that there are very few horror stories that have affected me this way.
It’s difficult to describe this book without giving away too much, which also makes it difficult to booktalk (which is why I only described the very beginning of the story). I can tell you that the book is written by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd. I can tell you that the illustrations by Jim Kay that are seamlessly integrated into the book are ASTOUNDING, and that they make the impact of the story even stronger. And I can tell you that this is one of the most powerful books for children and teens that I’ve read in the last decade.
Conor keeps having the same nightmare over and over again. But then one night, he wakes up from that nightmare just after midnight to hear a strange voice calling his name. He looks out the window and sees the same things he always does … the church on the hill behind his house … the graveyard next to the church … and the huge tree growing in the middle of that graveyard. But then the moon goes behind a cloud for a moment, and when it reappears, it’s shining on that tree again, only now the tree from the graveyard is right behind his house. And now that tree isn’t just a tree anymore. It has transformed into a monster, and it’s staring at Conor through the window, waiting for him to come outside.
Very soon, Conor is going to learn that it’s very hard to wake up from some nightmares … and that some nightmares are more real than others.