“Stories are wild creatures,” the monster said. “When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
This book, as so many do, tugs at the heartstrings. But what makes A Monster Calls unique is in the way and capacity in which this is done. I wouldn’t call this book eloquent in the way that Ness strings words together to make them beautiful, but in its dealing with rough and tough topics so expertly. The mastery here is in the simplicity. He writes as if speaking to a child and it’s what makes the story all the more haunting and brilliant.
Conor, our protagonist, has been suffering from dreadful nightmares. It’s something so horrible he can’t bare to speak about it. As the book progresses, it becomes quite evident to the reader just what this monster he’s having nightmares about might be. Another monster comes to visit him because he’s having such a rough time of it. Conor’s mother is battling cancer, his loathsome grandmother comes to help out, the bullies at school love to pick on him, and his estranged father makes everything all the more complicated.
What makes the appearance of these monsters so scary is their realness. The yew tree monster continuously proves himself to be real. And you don’t find out just how real the monster Conor is terrified of is until the end. The yew tree monster shows its significance throughout this short novel in many ways. Ultimately, he’s there to bring justice, though his form of justice is quite unorthodox.
This book feels a lot like Wonder, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. And it’s probably just as great, so I don’t know why it’s not as widely known. Even so, A Monster Calls is being turned into a film that looks perfectly deep, dark, and mysterious. I’m excited to watch the yew tree monster scenes and see the magnitude of the character brought to life on screen.