The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. Conor was awake when it came. He’d had a nightmare. Well, not a nightmare. The nightmare. The one he’d been having a lot lately. The one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. The one with the hands slipping from his grasp, no matter how hard he tried to hold on. The one that always ended with-

I really loved the dark illustrations in A Monster Calls. They are on basically all the pages, and really go well with the story, which is also kind of dark. As the jacket says, “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 nightmare he’s had nearly ever night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.” Wow. Well, the monster, which is a live yew tree, tells Conor three stories of its earlier days, and in return, Conor must tell it the “truth”. Otherwise, the monster will eat it. The stories that the monster tells are almost like fairy tales, but not quite. There is no “good guy” and “bad guy.” Murderers get rewarded, and evil queens get saved. But that’s the point. My favorite part of the book was definitely the illustrations, by Jim Kay. This book tackles some serious issues, like cancer and divorce. I also thought that the idea of the yew tree coming to life as a “monster” was really interesting. And the monster isn’t all that bad. It’s just trying to teach Conor something. The ending was a bit odd, though.

Read A Monster Calls:

  • if you like books with great black and white drawings
  • if you like dark fantasy
  • if you like books with “monsters”
  • if you like books with trees coming to life
  • if you like books that talk about cancer

205 pages.