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.
For a really long time, I was reluctant to pick up this book because I’d heard that it was a heart-wrenching story and that’s exactly what it was. It was a sad but absolutely beautiful story with some equally beautiful illustrations by Jim Kay. I’ll keep this review short and sweet because the book is a short one, and it’s probably also best that you go into it without knowing too much so that you can take from it your own messages.
13-year-old Conor is having a rough time. He’s being bullied at school. His mother is battling cancer and is incredibly sick from the chemotherapy. His father has a new family over in America and his new wife pretty much wants him to cut off ties with Conor and his mother. Conor is being forced to live with his grandmother, who’s not like the other smiley grandmothers in the world. And on top of all of that, there’s a monster who visits him in the middle of the night and leaves a terrible mess in his room the next morning.
I really felt for Conor and connected with him on an emotional level in this book. I felt all of his struggles and pain, and I couldn’t help but feel attached to his story. There were times when he acted like a little bit of a brat, particularly at the beginning of the book, but given the circumstances, I can forgive a young boy for not being a perfect angel. I actually thought that he handled his emotional struggles very well and I admired how strong he was when he needed to be.
The monster that visits Conor tells him three stories. These stories were my favourite aspect of A Monster Calls. They had a fairytale-like quality to them and I thought the messages and lessons they contained were very interesting. I wouldn’t have minded a whole book of just those stories to be honest, but I loved how these stories fit into the plot of the book overall.
There are some beautiful illustrations throughout the whole book. These illustrations appeared mainly during scenes where the monster visited Conor. They were slightly creepy, all in black and white, and were very intricate. I loved looking at them and trying to pick out little details that I would have missed at first glance. I thought Jim Kay’s illustrations really brought the story to life and enhanced it. I definitely recommend the illustrated edition of A Monster Calls!
I feel like this is a book I could recommend to anybody. I think everybody, including children and pre-teens, could take something away from this book. The ending of it affected me so much and had me reflecting on some of my own past and present experiences. And like I had anticipated, I ugly-cried for a while after it was over.