Review: A Monster Calls

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The only good thing about the appearance of a monster outside his bedroom window is that it’s not the monster Conor is expecting. He’s been having the same nightmare for months, since his mother got sick, and is more terrified of the monster in his head than the one smashing through his wall.

This new monster smells of leaves, damp earth, and the past. He’s come not to harm Conor, but to tell him three stories. And in return Conor must tell the monster one thing: the truth.

What a story

Part fairy-tale and part graphic novel, A Monster Calls brings together the best of the old stories and new themes.

Conor is anxious for his mother, but holds secrets that make him ashamed and angry. He hates that his mother’s illness has made him invisible and yet still the center of attention. The titular monster is incalculably old, and tells ancient stories that puzzle and anger Conor.

Yet it is these stories the boy needs most to hear. They become his lessons, the things that show him what he is and what he should be.

I love illustrator Jim Kay’s hectic, atmospheric drawings. They underscore the chaos the main character is undergoing, and showcase the magnitude and beauty of the monster and his stories.

It was very easy to connect with Conor; the author portrays his anger, sadness, and shame well, and I appreciate the honesty of the “twist” at the tale’s end. Very well done.

About the recommender

eclectic/eccentric is the domain of Trisha, an English teacher who recently became a mom. Trisha was one of the first bloggers I started following; she reads a little of everything, so I never know what review will show up next. She often reads feminist and LGBTQ-positive literature, which is a nice change for me.

Trisha loved the story of A Monster Calls, but especially adored the illustrations, and recommends keeping tissues handy while reading. Check out her review here.

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