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A Monster Calls

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An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

206 pages, Paperback

First published May 5, 2011

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About the author

Patrick Ness

42 books18.2k followers
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 40,504 reviews
Profile Image for Cait.
76 reviews1,686 followers
January 12, 2013
You can also find this review on my blog, Cait's Corner!

First things first: This almost never happens, but I have to admit that I cried at the end of this book; I clutched my cute little kitty-kat and bawled.

However, I didn't cry because of what the book in general, necessarily, but because of what it did to me. It drags out your saddest memories and pains, kicking and screaming, makes you look them right in the face and watch them all happen all over again, no matter how much you don't want to. It effects you on the deepest levels and makes A Monster Calls really turn into what, I think, truly deserves the name of a novel. This book resonated with me so deeply on so many different levels; it's just astounding.

My dad died suddenly, in a span of only thirty short minutes, of heart failure three years ago when I was just fifteen. Beneath all of the sadness from his passing, I've also been horribly mad. I never got the opportunity to even see him alive even once on that Tuesday, to let my monster come walking and hold me up with its monstrous hands as I said the words I didn't think I'd ever have the bravery to utter. All of the little things that you thought would be indelible really can go away, just in the last couple of months I can't remember what my dad's voice sounds like anymore, and every time I look in the mirror, I see my dad; it's a blessing and a curse to look just like him. So for these three long years I've lied to myself; saying things like "it was his time" and "there was nothing I could do to stop it" all of those things that people want you to say and expect to hear after the death of a loved one. But, after this book, I, like Conor, realize that I didn't want him to go, dammit. He was my dad; the guy that got up every morning early just to tell me that he loved me. He was my confidante, my every Tuesday night ice cream sandwich "date", my Trekkie, my best friend. And I learned from A Monster Calls that it's okay to be selfish like that, because you need to be able to say that you want to hold onto the people you love most before you can truly let go. I'm not saying that the change for me will be immediate, but this amazing novel by Patrick Ness showed me that it really is okay. That, right there, is one of the best things that a novel can do, to truly be able to affect a person to a core. And that's what A Monster Calls did to me in more ways than one.

I could also relate to Conor's feelings of being alone, ignored, and being treated "specially" just because of circumstance. Not only were the stares practically unbearable, but it reminded me every day of what I'd lost. You begin to shrink inside yourself in order to avoid it all, and, at the time, you want to become unseen to your fellow classmates; because being invisible is better than the stares, the pity, the concern. Whether your loved one has passed or it's imminent, you still don't want to believe that it's actually going to happen or has happened. No matter how much you've said the total opposite to yourself and everyone else; there's still a small part of you that thinks they're just been on vacation and are going to walk through that door, wrap you in a hug, and tell you how much they missed you while they were gone. Those stares just diminish that little shred of hope that you've got, so Conor and people like myself react by shutting off. Again, like I and Conor learned, once you're shut off, it sucks. Big time.

I'm one of those kind of people that is more an introvert than extrovert when it comes to emotional pain. When my dad died, though, I broke. I cried for a solid hour, and even when I was able to stop myself, the total shaking of my body didn't stop. I can remember everything that night through those shakes, my little sister screaming, my mom calling and asking in garbled speech if I wanted to see my dad's body one more time before the funeral. But I couldn't do that. I couldn't go. Couldn't accept that he was actually gone. The shakes didn't stop until I finally fell asleep on my dad's side of the bed hours later. I only really cried hard one other time after that, a day before my dad's funeral, but since then, I hated myself for it. For being weak and crying when my mom and sisters were needing someone so desparetly to help them. I haven't cried like that since then, and for a whole year I tried to fill the space my dad left. It was useless, but I tried: I made the meals, cleaned the house, mowed the lawn, did all that I could to ease their pain and worries while only tending to my own late at night, silently crying into my pillow. What Ness showed me through Conor was that it's okay to cry while others are watching, to let them take care of me and what I've dealt with, for three long, and yet, at the same time, short three years. A Monster Calls was able to let me take some of the pressure and pain out of that bottle of pent-up emotions and sadness, and I can't thank Patrick Ness and Siobahn Dowd enough for doing that for me through Connor.

And I loved all of the stories that the monster-although I don't really think of him as a monster anymore which I think is part of the irony of A Monster Calls- told. Even to the third and final story you really don't know how it's going to end and what the moral (or, possibly, no moral at all) is of each one. And they're not just a bunch of random stories that have no meaning to the plot. They literally are the plot. It's what drives the whole story and gives Connor the dimensions beyond just a little boy grieving his dying mother. It gives the shading of a character that helps us as readers see his drive and purpose for doing all that he is doing, which you just don't find very often these days. I wouldn't have been able to relate Conor's feelings of loss and pain without them, and that would have been a total shame.

Can I just say that I absolutely loved the monster, because I did. He, or it, or whatever, was just such an amazing character. His cryptic answers, interesting stories, the ability to discern what is true and what isn't, and was there for Connor when he needed him to be really made him feel like a god, or; at least, how a god should be. At first, in the beginning of the book, when he started declaring about his "many names" and how awesome, powerful, and ageless he was, I thought, oh, here we go again, another mightier-than-thou, idiotic deity, but Ness's monster talks the talk, and walks the walk superbly and graciously. I will never forget about the monster made of an ancient Yew tree.

Maybe someday, when I'm ready, or even totally unprepared, my monster will finally come walking, and I sincerely hope for that day.

The writing for the story was perfect. It had just the right amount of lyrical prose, a pubescent teen's voice, and an adult enough sounding idea and story that it will keep practically anyone 13+ entertained and effected for the rest of their lives in the best way possible. I basically loved everything about this book.

What I'm about to say next is not a joke. It's freaking weird, but not a joke:

After I was finished with this book and sitting in my contemplative and teary-eyed silence, my mom, not even five minutes later, walked up and told me something totally shocking, knowing nothing of the book and what I'd just read. She told us that our close neighbors's daughter-who has two kids- was diagnosed with severe uterine cancer, and that the prognosis for her survival was not good. I was totally astounded at the coincidence and meaning of it all. The feelings that went through me at this point are really hard to describe, but it really goes to show that you never know when it's going to happen, and you need to be able to start the process of letting go at any time, because you never really know when yours and anyone you love's time is going to be up. It was like an extra slap to the face after reading this book about how cruel-and sad- life can really be, sometimes. If I have to make any request to anyone from reading this review, it's to, please, never regret a single moment, and make every single one precious.

In the end I would recommend this book with all of my heart to anyone and everyone. It is touching, poignant, and amazing. You absolutely do not want to miss out on this read.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,989 reviews298k followers
March 30, 2012

I got back to my apartment in Bulgaria and thought I'd read a little bit of this novel before I went to bed. 2 hours later I was still sat in my original position but by this time I was sobbing my heart out. Literally sat there crying like a baby to myself. I doubt this book will be everyone's cup of tea but, whatever it has, it really worked it's magic on me.

I thought A Monster Calls was pretty much amazing in every way; from it's darkly beautiful illustrations (worth buying a paper copy for) to the great big touching metaphor that is the backbone of the story.

Didn't like The Knife of Never Letting Go? Not a problem. Forget it's by the same author whether you liked his previous books or not. Pretend you've never heard of Patrick Ness before because this is nothing like anything he has ever written. It's nothing like anything I've ever read. Where the Chaos Walking trilogy was a fast-paced adventure story, this is a very moving, well-written tale of a boy who's mum has cancer. It's about loss, and that doesn't necessarily mean death, and it's also about learning to let go and forgive yourself and others around you.

Think you've got it? Think you've worked out that the 'monster' is going to be cancer itself? Think again.

Like I said, this is a very different sort of idea (credit to the late Siobhan Dowd) and not the kind of book where you can guess where it's going. It's odd and unpredictable and very sad. Conor is one of those tragic but believable characters that you feel for all the way through. He faces constant battles in every aspect of his life. There's the obvious problem of his mother's illness, but also the fact that his dad has moved to America to start a new life with his new wife and baby. School offers no escape from Conor's miserable reality either as he finds himself between bullies who pick on him because they can and teachers who make their pity obvious every time they talk to him.

Then one night a monster visits Conor. A dream? An ancient creature that appears to those in need? Anything is possible, none of which is important. This monster is here for one purpose... to tell Conor three stories in exchange for the truth. Conor begins to learn that things aren't always as they seem and right and wrong are not so easily defined.

I loved it. It was nothing that I expected but I hope Siobhan Dowd's idea will inspire Patrick Ness to write more like this.
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews65.8k followers
December 20, 2016
Please excuse my ramblings, I read A Monster Calls in three hours and I am still extremely emotional. I should not have been given access to a computer after such a powerful book.

As I am writing this, there are still tears coursing down my face--black from my mascara. I may look like something straight out of a horror movie, but my soul feels lighter somehow. I was fooled into thinking this would be a simple story as it is only 200 pages, but it is not. It is so not. This book is raw and emotional and cathartic. It deals with grief, loss, and anger in ways I have never read about before, but only experienced. I don't know what else to say except that everyone should read this book at least once.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
December 9, 2019
Such a beautiful and gripping story. I feel like this is one of those books that will stay with you long after you've read it.
Profile Image for Shannon.
3,096 reviews2,381 followers
December 14, 2011
I just read this book from cover to cover.

I have no idea how to rate it.

It is the worst book I've read.

I would never be able to recommend it,

because I hated it.

It's ripped my heart in two.

It'll make you think of losing the one person who means the most to you.

Or it'll make you think of those you've already lost.

It's not a happy book, but it's an important one.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
546 reviews34.7k followers
March 6, 2018
”The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

Seven minutes after midnight
one hour after finishing the book:

*sits in a pile of tissues and STILL weeps*

<--- This was me on Saturday.

This is me now,
four days after reading the book:

*sits down to write a proper review but immediately starts to cry again*

I can’t write a review about this book, I just can’t!!!
Heaven knows I’ve tried to, but whenever I think about “A Monster Calls” I’m tearing up again.
Just to think about this book is already dangerous.
It makes you feel,
it causes your heart to ache,
it makes your throat go tight with sadness and pain.

It forces you to think!
And this probably might be the most dangerous thing…

”Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.”

I can’t even tell you what exactly causes me to cry.
Maybe it’s the entire book, maybe it’s the monsters painful wisdom, maybe it’s just the bitter truth?
All I know is that this story moved me. It moved me on a level books rarely do and it’s one of those books you wish you never read, but at the same time you’re so glad that you actually did.
Which makes absolutely no sense, but it is what it is! >_<

”Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.”

No matter how old and wrinkled I’ll become, I’ll always remember this story and it will always have a place in my heart. A.L.W.A.Y.S.!

So I guess what it comes down to, is that I won’t talk about this book.

I won’t talk about a boy who was forced to grow up way too fast.
I won’t talk about his anger and despair, about his hope and fears.
I won’t talk about his crushing loneliness or his endless pain.

I won’t talk about a mother who tried to do what’s best for her son.
I won’t talk about her frustration and helplessness, about her worries and concerns.
I won’t talk about her unconditional love for her boy nor will I talk about her courage and strength.

I won’t talk about a grandmother that didn’t know how to deal with the situation.
I won’t talk about her mental overload or that she was so very anxious and afraid.
I won’t talk about her display cabinet or her inability to find the right words.
I won’t judge her because Conor’s mother is her daughter too….

”You’re not even going to punish me?”
“What would be the point, Con?” his father said, shaking his head. “What could possibly be the point?”

I won’t talk about real friends and bullies.
I won’t speak about teachers that did the wrong thing for the right reasons.
I won’t mention kind monsters,
because I won’t talk about the freaking TRUTH!!!

I just won’t!
Because I’m crying once again and I can’t type anymore.
Because as the mother of a child to read this book was so very painful.
Because the truth hurts and it’s easier to close your eyes.

There are all kinds of monsters in the world,
but those who make you feel…
Well, those are certainly the worst. T_T

Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
February 6, 2023
i think this is honestly the best book about grief and coping that i have ever read. it was a wonderfully imaginative and truly insightful story. i love how it expressed such a tender subject in a really wild, but gentle, way.

i wish i had half the creativity and story-telling ability that patrick ness has. i cant believe such a powerful message was held within such a tiny book. it just goes to show that you dont need a lot of words to impact someone if they are the right words.

5 stars
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,631 reviews34k followers
September 26, 2011
In the dark of night, when the house is still, what fears creep into your heart? For Conor O'Malley, his nightmares take the shape of a very old and very dangerous monster who visits him every night at seven minutes past midnight. He's half-convinced that these must be dreams of his fevered mind. But how can they be, when the visits are so vivid and when he finds physical evidence of the monster's existence the next day?

Conor's nightmares begin shortly after his mother starts her treatments for cancer. He's also dealing with a father who lives far away and is engrossed with his new family, a brisk and determined grandma who doesn't understand him, and schoolmates who don't seem to see him anymore. As readers learn more and more about Conor's story and the terrible monster who comes to visit, it is impossible not to feel worry and fear and sadness for this boy, whose must shoulder problems that have toppled many adults before him. But even in his anger and pain, Conor's defiant spirit shows flashes of dry humor and painful hopefulness that are difficult to witness, but make him impossibly endearing.

A Monster Calls is a middle grade children's book, but it's a children's book in the way that Roald Dahl or Shel Silverstein wrote children's books--that is, the surface stories are certainly well-written and compelling, but underneath that are the themes of confusion and loneliness and sadness that elevate them to timeless works of literature. And while A Monster Calls chooses to confront its demons more literally than some other books may, it does so with such fierce intelligence and ease that it never feels didactic or forced.

...the fire in Conor's chest suddenly blazed, suddenly burned like it would eat him alive. It was the truth, he knew it was. A moan started in his throat, a moan that rose into a cry and then a loud wordless yell and he opened his mouth and the fire came blazing out to consume everything, bursting over the blackness, over the yew tree, too, setting it ablaze along with the rest of the world...

This an incredible book about the enormous burdens of responsibility and grief and loss. I read most of it with anxiety in my heart and as the story intensified, the ache in my throat got worse and worse. By the time I reached the end, hot tears were dripping onto the last two pages, and continued to fall as I immediately read those pages again, and as I read them yet again.

But more than anything else, I felt a great deal of love as I was reading this. Love for Conor, love for his mum, love for his grandma, and love for everyone who has ever experienced a profound loss. This is such a beautiful book, such an important book, and one that I think so many children and so many adults will appreciate. I cannot imagine that there will be another children's book written this year that will provide such a moving and emotionally truthful experience, or one that will so easily become an instant classic. In just 215 pages, A Monster Calls shatters your heart and then wraps it up tightly again so that you can go and be present in the world as an infinitely wiser, more loving human being.

About the Illustrations:

The words themselves are powerful and full of terrible beauty and latent emotion. But if you're able, do try to get your hands on a copy of the hardcover, which is illustrated with wildly expressive artistry that complement the story perfectly and captures exactly the right feel for the book. I've included some of the illustrations from the book here in this review, but if you'd like to see more images, please visit Jim Kay's website to learn more about the process the artist used.

About the Story:

The story behind this book makes it even more poignant. Siobhan Dowd, the award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, conceived this idea and the characters and the beginning--but died of breast cancer at the age of 47 before she could write the novel. Patrick Ness was asked to write the book based on her idea, and he succeeded in achieving a work of fiction that both transcends its genre and painfully wrenches your heart.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

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Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,070 reviews51.3k followers
June 28, 2020
real sad girl shit

ya i’m in my tears and i’m in my feelings too

that’s why every time you see me i got tissues

Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
February 16, 2018
To see this review and others, please visit www.readrantrockandroll.com

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a book like no other and one that I'll never forget.

My first rating in January on this book was 4 stars. I couldn't figure out why, I just didn't love the story. I re-read it this past weekend and I've revised my review.

*This review may contain spoilers for those who haven't read the book...

I was very angry, then sad, then had mixed emotions in between. My main issue when I first read it was that I wanted more of an ending, or perhaps more before the ending. Maybe I wanted a different outcome because I was so hopeful for Conor. I don't know, but after reading it again, without a doubt, I know I just can't handle the truth. As a mom, my worst nightmare. With that said, I've pondered over it and feel this book deserves 5 stars.

It's a book I'd still recommend to anyone and I'm very much looking forward to seeing the movie.

The illustrations by Jim Kay make the book feel so real. This is a book I want to keep forever.

5**** to one powerful story.

Watched the movie and loved it, but not as much as the book...
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 24, 2018
this book is a perfect modern fairy tale.

not a nice disney one with singing birds where everyone gets to go home with their prince and all of their limbs, but the older, darker kind involving foot-choppery and decimation.

lemme step back a bit. i added this book to my to-read shelf the moment i saw its cover here on goodreads.com. i knew nothing about it except that something in me bellowed "WANT!" i did not win it in the firstreads giveaway (naturally) and as more and more people began writing reviews for it, i discovered that it was not at all the kind of book i had thought (spooky horror), and was in fact something far more insidious and lasting.


1) this is how all my reviews are. welcome.
2) i am afraid of reviewing this book.

it is tricky business, isn't it, sometimes? on the one hand, if i had not read other reviews on here, i would have gone into it thinking it was going to be a typical horror story. and who knows how i would have responded when i found out the actual tone of the book? but by not saying anything, who knows if this book will reach the correct audience?

decisions are hard.

i will say this: it is a beautiful book. and i mean that both in the book-as-object sense and in its contents. don't ever read this book on a device - you are missing half its power - a unicorn without its horn is just a horse, after all.

this is a nearly-perfect book that every human should read. its treatment of the subject is incredibly sensitive, and conor is someone it is impossible not to feel for. although some of the specifics are limited to experiences in childhood, the majority of it has universal kick-in-the-heartedness. (i could not find an appropriate "real" word. that is all i have)it depicts helplessness and bravery and loss so very well. and it never feels manipulative, which is so rare in books like these.

it only missed out on that fifth star because i was sure, after hearing other people's commentary, that is would make me cry. why do i have to be such a damn robot?

but other than that, i cannot recommend this book highly enough. read it, write a better review than i have, and then gather your loved ones to you.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
December 11, 2017
Whyin the world did I re/read this right now!



Conor's mom is dying, he won't believe it. He says she's just having her treatments and she will get better like last time.

I'm not really sure if the yew tree monster is in his mind to help him or if it's real. I like to think it is a little of both. It is there coming to Conor's window trying to get him to come out and talk to it.


I really liked the graphics in this book, they are not not oh and ah, they are just graphics that tell a tale!

Conor gets bullied at school, but this doesn't really seem to bother him. Maybe it dulls the pain of what's going on with his mom.

Conor's dad comes back from the states to visit with him a little bit before..... Conor is living with his grandmother, whom he doesn't seem to like very well at first. Conor was hoping the yew tree monster would visit him at her house and he finally did... this caused a lot of destruction.


"I've been thinking it for the longest time," Connor said slowly, painfully, struggling to get the words out. "I've known forever she wasn't going to make it, almost from the beginning. She said she was getting better because that's what I wanted to hear. And I believed her. Except I didn't."

No, the monster said.

Connor swallowed, still struggling. "And I started to think how much I wanted it to be over. How much I wanted just to stop having to think about it. How I couldn't stand the waiting anymore. I couldn't stand how alone it made me feel."

He really began to cry now, more than he thought he'd ever done, more even than when he found out his mum was ill.

The yew monster tells stories to Conor, trying to teach him something until he gets to the last story and has to leave. I can't say any more, I don't want to give out any more major spoilers. I just know this book is so very good and it will break your little heart.

It broke Conor's :(

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 26, 2018


OMG, I’m a 40-plus-year-old DUDE and I almost lost it a couple of times.

There is not always a happy ending. I know this, we all know this, in life as in fiction. Hell, I even welcome it sometimes and give a “meh” to too cheesy a Hollywood ending or even a thumbs down to a deus ex machina. As any reader of Cormac McCarthy knows, sometimes the best ending is not the one that leaves us all warm and fuzzy.

Patrick Ness’s 2011 short novel was based on a concept from Siobhan Dowd, who died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 47, way way too soon. In this young adult novel (but also for the rest of us) young Conor O’Malley is dealing with the terminal illness of his single mother. As if that is not bad enough, he’s getting picked on at school. Then a monster “comes walking” and things get interesting.

Ness keeps the syrup on the table but tells this somber fantasy straight and it works. The characterization is real and the dialogue is what you expect in real life. The drawing of the monster was also excellent, casting from ancient myth, legend and from psychological elements to create a fantastic but believable relationship between Conor and the monster who always shows up at the same time.

Highly recommended but keep the tissue paper in reach.

Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
795 reviews2,848 followers
February 21, 2023

Someone please send some chocolate, a hug, and possibly some Irish scotch my way.
I think I'm dying.

If I'm not dead already, that is.

It's half past midnight, I'm an ugly sobbing mess and I think that noise I just heard was either my soul ascending to another dimension or my heart -or what's left of it-
breaking in my chest.
I feel nothing but numbness right now, though, so it could easily be both.

I hate this book so much.
It touched me in some very sensitive spots, rubbed its salty and bookish paws against wounds that are still too fresh for it to not hurt like hell.
I hate it with the burning passion of someone who's lived through something similar and felt the same kind of pain deep within their bones.
I hate it because it did nothing but remind me of how necessary it is, sometimes, to deal with the monsters we carry around in order to feel better with ourselves and the world that surrounds us.
I've never read anything nearly as awfully beautiful as this story is. The way it's written, the timing, the darkness behind the words.
Everything is so perfect and it hurts so bad it's almost good.
A devastating masterpiece. A glorious goodbye letter filled with tears and courage. A sharp and bleeding piece of heart disguised as a 200-something-page novel.
I wish I'd read it sooner, I wish I never did.
I hate it, hate it, hate it and, at the same time, love every bit of it. Every line and every page, from my first breath to the last.

Gosh, what a book.

And if no one sees you, are you really there at all?

Professional Reader
10 Book Reviews
Reviews Published
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
January 10, 2012

A Monster Calls has to be the most inventive book I've read this year. And I find myself struggling to put in words how much this book has touched me. But it did. If you haven't read A Monster Calls, I suggest you immediately purchase it. Don't read the e-book because you would miss out on the amazing artwork. This book is stunning. Masterfully written and beautifully drawn.

I remember the first time a book made me cry like this. I was in eighth grade in my English class, sitting under my desk in the back of the room reading A Walk to Remember. If you've read that book you will probably understand why I cried. I'm naturally an emotional person, you see. I cry easily if I see another's suffering. At the time I was fortunate enough to not have yet experience the feeling of losing someone close to you. Unfortunately, I know that feeling all too well now and that is the reason I was initially afraid to read A Monster Calls. I saw my GoodReads friends reading and reviewing the book, but I couldn't bring myself to add it to my shelf. I had an idea of where it could take me emotionally, and it's not a place I choose to visit. I keep those memories locked up and tucked away. But this book made me remember. It made me remember the phone call. It made me remember the shock, the pain, the regret, the denial, the limo ride, the funeral, the casket, the anger, the depression, the trials. It made me remember my brother, who on some days I choose to forget because it's easier that way. Maybe that sounds horrible, but it's true. It's an awful truth.

So, how do you write a review for a book that makes you remember? How can I describe in words how unbelievably vulnerable this book can make you feel? How do I explain the beauty of the frailty? I simply can't. My advice would be to go into this book blind. You have to or you risk doing a disservice to yourself, this book and the wonderful story within its pages. I suppose you are just going to have to trust me when I say A Monster Calls is beyond amazing. It's about loss, acceptance, grief, facing your fears, and letting go. This book made me laugh, made me think, tore out my heart, made me cry, and healed me. I hope, no, I know it will do the same for others...

More reviews and more at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
Profile Image for ❀ Lily ❀.
79 reviews15.9k followers
April 26, 2020
I loved this, it's heartbreakingly beautiful and i cannot recommend it enough.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews927 followers
October 28, 2022
“Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?”

Patrick Ness: Why I wrote A Monster Calls - BBC News

When a monster shows up and talks with 13-year old Conor in Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, the question behind why it has ‘come walking’ immediately arises. Has it appeared to do mischief to Conor or has Conor summoned it and, if so, summoned it to do what? The writing, especially when the monster is around, evokes dreams, faraway lands and ancient creatures. As soon as the monster begins to relate a set of stories, even though I liked the stories, A Monster Calls, along with the issues Conor is dealing with away from the monster, becomes very predictable. 3.5 stars; I enjoyed this quick read, but wanted something more so (unfortunately) I’m rounding down.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
719 reviews1,112 followers
December 15, 2017
“Who am I?” The monster repeated. “I am the spine the mountains hang upon! I am the tears the rivers cry! I am the lungs that breathe the wind!...I am everything untamed and untameable! I am this wild earth, come for you Conor O’Malley.”

I enjoyed this tale, though I have to admit I wasn’t as blown away as the masses of other reviewers seemed to be.
I’ve read a lot of books on tough topics, including illness and while I believe this one was done very well it didn’t stand out from among many others.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed Ness’s approach to his subject. Conor, a young boy whose mother is terminally ill, is visited by a monster every night at 12.07. This monster is to tell Conor three stories, and at the end of these stories Conor will tell his own.

“I do not often come walking, boy....only for matters of life and death. I expect to be listened to.”

The stories were very good I found. The focus on human nature and how every person is complex. The person you may think is the villain may not actually be as evil as you first thought, and the one you thought a hero may actually have done some dark deeds.

“There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”

Conor’s struggles with his mother’s illness, his dislike of his grandmother, troubles at school and a brief visit from his absent father all make the situation very real and difficult.

Overall, a quick and enjoyable read and I will be giving some of Patrick Ness’s other works a go!

“It was not that he was actually invisible...it was that people had become used to not seeing him...and if no one sees you...are you really there at all?”
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
October 1, 2011
I don’t think I can write a review for this book. I feel neither equipped, nor inclined, to make an evaluation of A Monster Calls based strictly on its literary style and merits. (Therefore, if you’re looking for an analysis of the plot, characters etc – you will be better served with another review).

So I’m writing a response instead. Or, I will attempt to.

I have a difficult relationship with books that deal with the subject of death and grief.

Occasionally, I find a book that is moving and resonant - and I will both love it and feel jealous of it, for being able to articulate things I never could. Books that somehow translate raw emotion into words, that create a mirror out of ink and paper, reflecting back things I know to be deeply true and real (to me, at least).

Then there are the books that make me feel like my emotions are being traded on, manipulated, cheapened. Reducing it to fuel for an angsty teen plot line. Presuming my tears can be bought for the cost of a $19.95 paperback.

I can distinctly recall watching a film recently and walking out completely dry-eyed and practically spitting with rage at the distinct feeling that grief was being commercialised on. That such an incredibly personal experience and the accompanying emotions could be held to ransom by an overwrought, histrionic movie.

Yes, I took it personally. Because it was personal.

A couple of months before I turned fifteen, my father died. It was sudden, an accident. We’d had dinner as usual. He was working nights and left soon after. I hadn’t said goodbye to him because I was annoyed about something. Less than two hours later, he was dead. I could tell you exactly what clothes I put on after my brother told me I had to get out of the shower and get in the car. I could tell you exactly which Renoir print hung in the white, soulless room we were herded into at the hospital. I could tell you, word for word, the first thing my Mother said after we were given the news.

What I can’t tell you is what happened after that. Well, after a time, things came back into focus. But there is a great chasm in my mind that covers the rest of that night and the following days and weeks, as if my brain realised I couldn’t bear it and filled that space in with darkness so I wouldn’t see any of it.

Now, it feels almost like a presence, something that has grown with me in a strange, symbiotic way over the years. Mostly, these days, it’s a shadow, lying quiet and dormant, but making itself known by shading my memories, colouring the way I speak and act all this time later. At other times, it is a thick, solid wave, filling up my body so that I’m afraid to speak, terrified that I might unleash a torrent I can’t stop. That I might be overwhelmed, suffocated, drowned in sadness.

I strongly believe that grief and death are deeply personal things that no one experiences in exactly the same manner. And I suppose that this is why some book and film interpretations make me so upset, that they somehow think they can package up the experience and present it to you, neat and orderly. ”Here is the sadness you ordered! Here are the steps you will pass through! You should cry.. wait for it…now!” The reality, I believe, is so much more complex than that. So, when people tried to reach out to me, touch me, say “I know how you feel,” – I wanted to lash out at them. To scream that they had no idea what I was feeling. All I wanted was silence. Someone close by, not to interpret my pain, but to bear witness to it along with me.

A Monster Calls is many things - beautifully written and stunningly illustrated amongst others. But what struck me the most about this book is that it was so terribly honest. It bravely spoke of things that are often harboured in our deepest, darkest centres – far under the surface of our outward manifestations of pain. The things that are kept locked away by fear. Things that go unuttered because we worry that saying them aloud might make them real, and somehow define us in some horrible, irrevocable way.

Although this book did make me cry at it’s conclusion, I think in this case it was partly out of relief. The ideas expressed in this book, and very words uttered by the monster, allowed a weight to come sliding off my shoulders. I felt as if a personal truth had just been recognised and validated, in a very tender, respectful manner. Permission to accept that the thoughts I had pushed down as shameful and selfish, were just that: thoughts. Just one or two thoughts out of the millions I have had, but ones that I chose to hold on to and punish myself with for years.

I have not read another book that expressed so much understanding of what this is like. I have not read another book that felt this empathetic – it doesn’t just acknowledge your pain, it is a shared experience.

A Monster Calls is a special book, one to be absorbed, internalised and held very, very tightly.

I hope that it others are able to connect and love this book, to feel it leave an indelible print on them once the covers are closed.

I know that I did.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Again - apologies for the overly personal tangent this review took. But I'm afraid I simply couldn't find a way to write about this book without my own experiences seeping in. (If time lends me some objectivity, I might come back here and edit to make this a little more helpful.)
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,308 followers
April 14, 2017

❝Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.❞

Thank you Goodreads for graciously sending me a signed copy of A Monster Calls!

I'm not crying because this book is sad. I'm crying because this book is my story. It's my family's story. It's my mom's story. A Monster Calls was a difficult book to read. I've seen many readers say they've cried because of the words written on these pages. But I've lived this book.

My mother died of breast cancer two years ago at the age of 44. I lived the day when the doctors told my mom that she had breast cancer. I lived the day when I'd spend my 19th birthday visiting her on her hospital bed in the ICU while she was in a coma. I lived the day when I would see her take her last breath. I lived the day I let her go even if it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Two years later, I wish I could tell you that it gets easier. I don't cry everyday anymore if that counts as getting easier. I'm not sure why I'm even saying all this, but I guess reading this book has made me feel a bit vulnerable at the moment. It's made me confront all kinds of emotions I've been trying to avoid since the day my mother passed.

Although I was reading this book through Connor's eyes, it was like reliving the tough year my family had to endure together while my mom fought the battle of her life. I've felt every emotion that Connor experienced. I hated being pitied. I was angry. At myself. At the world. At God. And when his mother spoke, it was my mother speaking to me through her words. A Monster Calls was a painful book. There were times when I even had to put this book down to compose myself. But reading it felt a lot like... closure. It reminded me that it was okay to be angry. It was okay to hurt, to be scared. It was okay to let go.

A Monster Calls wasn't a book that I would typically read, but I'm glad I did. I was putting it off for a while because I was trying to avoid the feelings that it would conjure up but it's a tale I know that many people would love. It was a tough ride down memory lane but my mom's battle with cancer was not always bad. Sure, there were bad days and even worse days. But it brought us together as a family. I was closer to my mom in the 11 months she battled cancer than I did those 19 years of my life. Reading this book brought back a lot of painful feelings but it gave me a chance to, somehow in some way, say goodbye to her once again.

03.27.1970 - 07.25.2014 <3
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,140 reviews3,569 followers
January 12, 2016
This is great book!


Very quick to read so if you are interested on it.

You'll find out that you'd read it in no time.

Also, it helps that it's a page turner, since the story has many elements to keep you hooked to it.

I hate to classify books for some specific age, since I think that books shouldn't have any age or genre.

Books should be read by men or women at any age and they should be as good as effective.

However, one can't deny that the author made this story thinking in kids and/or early teenagers, but not matter that, I think that readers of any age can enjoy this story with the same impact and purpose.

As C.S. Lewis said (and I am quoting not necessarily with the exact words) "that any children's story that it can't be enjoy by adults, it's a bad children's story".


For readers who are looking for stories where there aren't good people or bad people but just people, this is your book.

This story will provoke you many moods and states, you will smile at some moment, you will hate at other, you will cry in yet another.

And all that it's okay.

I think that this book should be to be read at some moment in your lives.

Please, don't let that those labels of "children", etc... in the genres of the book keep you away of the book, not matter how young or how old you are.

If you want to read this book, please do, you won't regret it.

It's about something important. About something needed to be read.

Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
February 7, 2017
Oh boy. I picked this one up on a whim today as it's been sitting on my shelf for ages and I was in the mood for a good cry, seeing as our pending move is getting extremely close. This book brought me back to 2008 when my mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, then after 3 months turned to stage 4 with a death sentence. (I'll have you know cancer's ass got beat and she's still in remission after almost 9 full years) Cancer books are always hard for me to read, which I think is why I put this one off for so long, but suffice it to say, I'm glad I picked it up. I'm not sure what I could possibly say that hasn't been said yet about this book, but it was wholly moving and by far the richest book I've read in years. Highly recommended for the right time. I may come back and add more thoughts if I process through it a bit more.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,395 followers
January 1, 2023
And here's another book which broke my soul. There's only another one book which I would not recommend even though I gave it all the freaking complete full stars of the reading galaxy aka A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The only difference between these two books is that this A Monster Calls is really short. But the effect of both is the same : devastating.

And I am so afraid of the moment I have to face the same situation in my real life one day.

And this is really breaking my heart.

I cannot stop grieving.

I cannot believe this middle grade, fantasy-paranormal short fiction would have this effect on me.

And believe me I really do not want to recommend anyone this book unless it is really required.

This book has the story of a boy who is struggling through a rough time of a family member with a terminal illness.

There's more to this story. The monster is by far my most favourite character. Another character, Lily, is one of those characters who you love and then hate and then love. And yes, this one has one of the most unlikeable father characters I have across but again, reality check: I really cannot hate this character too. I wish the character of the grandmother was a little more developed. But things worked out perfectly in breaking my heart. My head is a mess right now and I am so going to fall sick. I am still grieving.
Profile Image for Peter.
2,776 reviews496 followers
July 12, 2022
I really liked this cleverly told tale. Connor, a young lad of 13 years has an encounter with a monster. His mother is suffering from cancer, at school he's bullied, his father has a new family... the monster tells him four tales. What are they about? Why is it a rather philosophical horror novel you can learn a lot in? Well, I don't give any spoilers here but this heart warming story is a quick read with some eerie elements and lot of suspense. Convincing characters, an interesting monster (Green Man concept) and a good plot. Absolutely enjoyed it and can highly recommend that marvelous book!
Profile Image for Justin.
284 reviews2,299 followers
September 6, 2016
I feel like every time I love a YA book I start my review with "I don't read a lot of YA, but..."

So, I don't read a lot of... I mean... Hang on...

Patrick Ness is the best YA author out there. If you haven't read the Chaos Walking trilogy then please put everything in your life on hold and go find a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go. This is the only book I've read from him outside of that series, but this book is just as amazing. I would also recommend picking up a physical copy of the book because the illustrations and the entire presentation in real book format with real pages made from real trees just makes the entire experience that much better.

I decided to read this after I watched the trailer for the movie that comes out later this year. The movie looked really good, I recognized the author, one thing led to another, yada yada yada, and I finished the book in one sitting. Then I put everything else by Ness on hold at my library. Then I put everything I could find by Siobhan Dowd on hold at my library.

So I don't read a lot of YA, but I do. And this book raises the bar on the genre. It's like what Neil Gaiman tries to do with fantasy on a whole nother level mixed with John Green's tear-jerking coming-of-age stuff. It's short and there aren't any wasted words or pages. It begins and ends beautifully with fantastic stories within the story.

I'm so glad a ran across this thing and took the time to read it. It tackles some pretty heavy issues in a unique way, and
it's something I feel like I'll be thinking about for a while.

Patrick Ness, man. He owns YA fiction in my opinion.
Profile Image for emma.
1,865 reviews54.3k followers
August 18, 2018
I don’t wanna say I went into this with high expectations, but like...okay yes I went into this with high expectations.

But how could I not! The concept - about a boy whose mother is dying of cancer who is visited by a monster demanding the truth - is beautiful. I’ve read a couple of Patrick Ness books and found them really creative and unique. Also everyone in the whole entire world said this book was beautiful and would tear my heart out and make me cry!

Alas, no.

The thing I should have remembered about the books of Patrick Ness’s I’ve read is that I always liked the concept more than the book itself. And guess the hell what. Same situation here, boi.

My favorite part of this book was the author’s note. The author’s note is beautiful, and you should read it and then put the book down because you’ve just read the best part and it will not get better.

I don’t really know what else to say. I know this book is super important to a lot of people, and I know people are probably going to come at me in the comments like they came at May with patronizing ass sentiments like “If this didn’t click with you then obviously you haven’t watched a loved one suffer like this!”

Which is honestly just an insane thing to say to a person, but whatever.

This book just didn’t connect with me. I didn’t feel spoken to or really much of any emotional reaction, because I didn’t feel the reality of any of the characters or the situations they were in.

If I’m being really, really, REALLY honest, some of this felt emotionally manipulative. Like this was obviously supposed to be wrenching and sad and make you cry. The fact that this kid is terrorized by a monster and has a mean grandmother and is getting bullied and his mom is dying? Like, come on. That’s not for richness of narrative or reality of experience. That’s just purely to be sad.

I don’t know. I’m talking myself into liking this less when I really didn’t hate it. But still.

Bottom line: Not for me! (Please do not see the words “not for me” and read them as “this is a terrible book no one should read!” and attempt to debate me. If this book brought you closure or made you feel spoken to or anything else, I’m glad for you. I’m not trying to take that away from anyone!!! Please don’t misinterpret that.)


the concept of this was so, so, so lovely.

which makes it all the more sucky that the execution didn't really do it for me at all!!!

review to come i guess, who cares, life is meaningless


felt pretty confident that this would be a tear-free experience and then almost teared up at the f*cking author's note.

i am ready to die.

attempt at my first ever successful (sorry emma for that one time) buddy read with my favorite faceless wonder
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