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The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean Telt by Hisself

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  426 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
From master storyteller David Almond comes a gripping, exquisitely written novel about a hidden-away child who emerges into a broken world.

Billy Dean is a secret child. He has a beautiful young mother and a father who arrives at night carrying the scents of candles and incense and cigarettes. Birds fly to his window. Mice run out from his walls. His world is a carpet, a be
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Candlewick Press (first published 2011)
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another bleak offering from candlewick, god bless 'em.

to begin - this book is written in the voice of billy dean, a boy who spent the first thirteen years of his life secreted away in the back room of an apartment in a war-torn world, with only three people knowing of his existence: his mother, his priest father, and the woman who delivered him into the world on the very day their town of blinkbonny was bombed. his father, when he bothers to stop by for a visit and a tumble with billy's mother,
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Did not finish.

Reading this book is making me stupider and giving me a headache. I can't stand the spelling.

I know it's deliberate, but that doesn't make it any better.
Oct 21, 2012 Colin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love David Almond's Young Adult novels, so I was keen to see what he turned out for adults, and whether it would have the same hallmarks or go off in completely new territory. Having read the book, I'm not sure it is a book especially for adults at all. It still feels YA to me because I think teens can related to the majority of the story, but like the best YA books, there are depths here that only mature readers will notice.

And yes, it does have the David Almond hallmarks. It's never pinned d
Oct 25, 2011 Kat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm, this book was a bit of a puzzle for me. I feel like I was supposed to glean some deeper meaning and understanding of...something. But I didn't. That may be because I am quite a simple soul and anything beyond the actual story is lost on me. I don't like dissecting stories, it kind of sucks all the fun out of reading.

At face value this was OK. I almost didn't read it when I found out that Almond wrote the story in a completely phonetic style, which made the whole reading experience quite pai
Jo Bennie
Nov 30, 2014 Jo Bennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a
Billy Dean is born in the town of Blinkbonny, just outside Alnwick, the day the bombs explode razing his town and plunging his country into war. He grows up knowing only the walls of the tiny flat where he and his mother live, and the face of his father who is an occasional visitor, preaching hellfire and teaching his son Bible stories. At the age of 13 his mother takes him out into the post apocalyptic landscape of rubble for the first time and he becomes a phenomenon, can speak to the dead and ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: passed-on
I was intrigued as soon as I read about The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean.

A crossover book, marketed to both children and adults. A book written by an award-winning author of books for children. I’d read a couple of them and I’d liked the mixture of reality and magic, earthiness and airiness. This new book had the potential to be something rather special.

I was a little worried though when my copy arrived and I discovered that the spelling was phonetic and that the use of language was collo
Lacey Louwagie
I don't really want to start this review by talking about the phonetic spelling, but it so colors the whole reading experience that I feel I really must get it out of the way.

The whole book is written phonetically, and inconsistently phonetically (sometimes one is spelled "won," sometimes 1"). That inconsistency didn't actually bother me because I think when someone is unsure how to spell something, they don't necessarily spell it wrong the same way every time. And while the phonetic spelling is
Nov 20, 2014 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
The day Billy Dean wos born wos a day of great destrucshion for his town of Blinkbonny. Kept in secrit and seeing only his butyful yung mam Veronica and, on his rare visits, his daddy, Billy nos little of the world he has been born into. At the age of thirteen when his daddy disapperes it seems for good his mam introduses Billy to the world, and the devastashion that has remained almost unchanged since his birth. While virchewally uneducated and ignorant of the world at large there are thoos who ...more
Wayne McCoy
Mar 30, 2016 Wayne McCoy rated it liked it
'The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean Telt by Hisself' by David Arnold is a bit of a struggle to read. It's written by a largely uneducated main character who seems to prefer spelling phonetically.

Billy Dean is born in the town of Blinkbonny sometime after the bombs have fallen. All we know is there has been some sort of war, that may still be going on. Billy Dean spends his early years locked away in a room with his mother nearby and he gets occasional visits from his father. When he gets a
Feb 06, 2014 Victoria rated it did not like it
Though this book sounds promising, its execution prevents it from being an enjoyable read. It’s a struggle to get through this book. It is written semi-phonetically, but inconsistently (“one” is written as both “1” and “won”) and this choice is so alienating. Here’s an example of one of the sentences: “Mebbe non of us think that standin & warkin on the world is enuf for us.” The beginning relays that this is a retrospective story, and since there are so many other literate people in Billy’s ...more
Review written for WASHYARG (Washington Young Adult Review Group).

Billy Dean has lived in the same room since he was born. His only view of his little town of Blinkbonny is a tiny square of sky through the skylight. He only ever sees his mother and father, and the only animals he’s seen in person are birds and mice. Because of his limited view of the world, Billy’s upbringing is strange, to say the least. It is only when Billy turns 13 and his mother decides that it is time for him to see the wo
Well, this got my attention. David Almond, why did you write your entire book this way?

"Ther was a shaft of lite farlin on him ther was a million bits of dust dansin spinnin glitterin in that shaft of lite. He lit a blak sigaret & the smoak swirld rownd him with the dust."

It seems like it has annoyed most readers, and it certainly makes the book challenging to read (it probably took me twice as long as a normal book of its length). But I think it was worth it! The language and phonetic spell
Emeraldia Ayakashi
David almond is a master storyteller, and tales are beautiful writen .
It's gripping, truly original, mysterious and affecting . This book is like some beautiful people who intrig you, who you will treads with delicate certainty .
Gabriella Cisneros
Jul 14, 2014 Gabriella Cisneros rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-school
Genre: Dystopian, Magic Realism/Paranormal

Notes: English (UK), weird spellings (phonetically), interesting style, takes awhile to understand, mystery, short story-ish, first person POV, unusual, intriguing, emotional, good characterization, hmmm…

Rating: 9/10

My Deduction: Yes. You can do it! Don’t give up!

Why: I skimmed over a few of the reviews on GoodReads just after reading the first paragraph of this book. Why? Well, YOU try reading the first few sentences and tell my why you wouldn’t be curi
Blake Fraina
Dec 09, 2014 Blake Fraina rated it it was ok
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean is presented as the journal of a boy who’s been shut away from a post-apocalyptic world his entire life. He lives blissfully unaware of the wholesale destruction and unending war that exists just beyond the threshold of the one little room he’s been forced to occupy since his birth on the first night of the disaster. The first thing that’s immediately obvious is that he’s also never been taught to read or write properly.

I’ll admit that when I started readi
Sep 10, 2016 Carly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I've been an absolutely huge fan of David Almond since my second year of university, when I read Skellig as part of my Writing for Young People module. I fell in love with his lyrical style of writing and intense attention to detail that really helps to bring his remarkable characters to life. I adored Finding Mina as well and I was so, so excited about The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean.

Honestly, I pined for this book for months. I'm not even joking. I heard him read an extract at the Puff
Jan 06, 2014 Karissa rated it liked it
I have read a number of David Almond books and really enjoyed them. My favorite of his is The Skellig, but I also really enjoyed Heaven Eyes. I was excited to get this book for review, until I started reading it and realized the whole book is written phonetically and is very hard to read.

Billy Dean is a secret boy. His mother and father keep him hidden away in a room for most of his life. Then one day his father goes away and his mother brings him out into the town of Blinkbonny. At some time Bl
TJ Nartey
Sep 20, 2016 TJ Nartey rated it really liked it
Great book! The grammar is absolutely a challenge & quite annoying, to be honest, but once you accept that deliberate flaw you can see how amazing the book is. If you read it with an open and sincere mind, you are likely to feel something by the end of the book. It will leave you with questions that cause more questions, that cause more questions, and so on
Feb 27, 2014 Courtney rated it really liked it
Billy Dean is a special child. He is born on a day of death and destruction, when bombs nearly destroyed the small town of Blinkbonny. He is the only life that came out of that dreadful day. Billy's world consists entirely of a small attic room with locks on the door. His mother, a beautiful hairdresser, is his only contact with the outside world. She teaches him nearly everything he knows. Billy's father only comes around from time to time, smelling of incense, candles and cigarettes. When his ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Nathaniel rated it it was ok
Ugh, where do I start. This book has been a struggle for me. To begin, the phonetic writing was a tad bit much. I'm all for phonetic writing, one of my favorite books is Say You're One of Them. But this was way too much. Almost every other word is a slaughtered mess of letters. I know that the point is that Billy is illiterate, but it was faaar too heavy handed for my liking. It became a fight to read at some points. I was having to read words out loud to figure out what it was trying to say. An ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok
While I like the character of Billy Dean, I had some major issues with this book.

First, I'm not so sure the use of the phonetic language was successful. It would have been nice to see it at first, because we know from actual events that when individuals don't develop socially, they tend to struggle with language. But, Billy Dean never increases in his ability to write. Despite spending so much time learning letters, having people show him how to spell, and at the end asking Elizabeth for help on
Dec 28, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
I've been thinking about this one for the past few days since I finished it, and I wasn't sure what to really write about it.

I'm a huge David Almond fan, as I'm pretty sure I've read almost every single one of his novels and shorter works and loved them all. He's one of my favorite authors--if not THE favorite--as his writing style is so simple and wonderful and beautiful.

However, this one is odd... I know that's vague, but it's the best way to put it. It's both very much an Almond story and als
Tracy Terry
Nov 12, 2015 Tracy Terry rated it did not like it
The tale of Billy Dean, a young boy (a miracle/miracl worker, a 'favoured child' - or is he?) trapped in a room with his mother by a father who fills his son's head with mysterious tales until one day when ....

Oh dear! Too weird for my taste ... If indeed weird is a legitimate summing up of a book. I've tried original and different but somehow these don't seem to fully epitomise my feelings in quite the same way.

Written in a way that I can only describe as a sort of mish-mash comprising phonetic
Jan 11, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, borrowed, library, ya, 2015
I'm not sure there are words or stars to really explain this one to you. I found it somewhat painful to read for at least half, and then somehow fell into a rhythm with it - I think if you have the option you should probably go audio with this one. It's meant to be an oral story in my opinion. This is the story of Billy Dean, a child who is secreted away by his priest father and hairdresser mother after his hidden birth on the day that the town of Blinkbonny is blasted to smithereens. The story ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Ryan rated it liked it
At times brilliant and devastating, other times languid to the point of 'where is this going?!', The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean is a dark, messy book about violence, miracles, love, and death. Almond is great at creating setting; here the locale is Blinkbonny, the ruins of a small town that has been bombed to near human extinction. You can hear the footsteps on the rubble, smell the rot of human flesh, and hear the murmurs of survivors' desperate voices. They wash through the ears of Bi ...more
This book is a funny beast. I picked it at random at the local library, knowing nothing about it and not having even read the cover blurb.
The first thing is that the book is written phonetically, which makes it awful to read, and it really adds nothing to the story.
Once the story starts, at first it seems rather like a low grade version of Room (by Emma Donoghue). I was not convinced with how well Billy acclimatised to the outside world so quickly.
Which brings us onto the next bit. Suddenly,
Jul 14, 2014 Karen rated it it was ok
Haunting and lyrical, the cover is one of my favorites and the audiobook is beautifully narrated by a master storyteller (the author himself), but I never connected with this story about religious subversion, even though it has stronger appeal for adults than teens. For thoughtful readers of magic realism and literary fiction who enjoyed the darkest aspects of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, this is a possible listen-alike that includes murky, nightmarish childhood memories, revealed in a mesm ...more
Oh, this story, this story. This was a tough read for me for a number of reasons: First there was the writing, with its painful phonetic spelling, which never improves as the book progresses. I respect the impetus behind Almond's decision to write Billy's voice in this way, but that doesn't mean it wasn't incredibly difficult to read. Then there was the fact that the story was so incredibly confusing: I spent basically the whole book trying to figure out what time period it was set in and whethe ...more
This review was first posted on Music, Books and Tea.

I’m going to be honest with you, when I picked up Billy Dean I expected it to a kind of Sweeny Todd like story, thanks to the scissors on the front cover. What I received instead was something totally different, but definitely in a good way.

The first thing that I picked up on whilst reading Billy Dean was the fact that the book is written phonetically. And that kind of threw me at first, because obviously, I’m not used to reading that style of
Heather Noble
Jan 29, 2012 Heather Noble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always curious of fiction that declares itself true, I was looking forward to this novel from one of my favourite children's authors. I was then disheartened to discover it's written phonetically, but almost immediately reassured as the language succeeds in letting us empathise and get into the skin of the 13 year old narrator.
Billy has been hidden from society since his birth which occurred exactly at the same time as the destruction of the church and the town by suicide bombers and air.
I alwa
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David Almond is a British children's writer who has penned several novels, each one to critical acclaim. He was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle in post-industrial North East England and educated at the University of East Anglia. When he was young, he found his love of writing when some short stories of his were published in a local magazine. He started out as an author of adult fiction be ...more
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“I won't ask for enything mor complicated today as I don't wish to further disapoynt myself.” 1 likes
“I am Billy Dean. This is the truth. This is my tail.” 1 likes
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