The monster showed up 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...
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, is a beautiful book that in my mind is best described as A Christmas Carol as told by the Brothers Grimm.
An overwhelming feeling of sadness crept up on me while I was reading. Following Conor through his endless amount of frustrations was nigh on heart-breaking. None of the adults in his life would treat him appropriately, pushing him further and further into isolation, and his one wish was that everything would return to how it was before his mother became sick.
It is not until a monster appears at his window, and promises to tell him three stories for one in return, that Conor has an outlet for his feelings about his mother's illness, and the behaviour of those around him.
After I had reached the last few pages I struggled to keep my composure and hold back the tears. For the rest of the night I was carrying around a pit of sadness that was waiting to be provoked, which would have turned me into a blubbering wreck in an instant. As a reader I knew exactly what was happening, and ultimately where the story would end, but this knowledge didn't lessen any impact of those final, harrowing, chapters where Conor owns up to his truth.
Not to forget that Jim Kay's illustrations are stunningly intricate, and their darkness complements Ness' prose perfectly. Go get a copy to see what I mean, and maybe a box of tissues while you're out. Just in case.