Title: A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 237

Source: Personal Copy

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


This revolves around a boy, Conor, who, in the process of accepting his mother’s illness goes through tough times of his own. He is bullied in school and doesn’t even retaliate. On top of it all, he is greeted by a monster in the form of a enormous yew tree who is adamant approximately telling him 3 tales. In return, the monster wants only the truth from Conor. The truth approximately his nightmare that he has been hiding all this time.

A simple plot but beautifully presented from the point of view of Conor. The three tales that the monster narrates were so good that they make you think. Having no “good guy not good guy” distinction in them – as is true for real life as well – they each have an unexpected and unpredictable ending. Like the monster itself said –

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

The tales started off as fairy tales at the beginning were soon developed into something more realistic. No hero-villain could be distinguished and yet they taught Conor (and us) lessons to let go of the things he has been holding on to.

It is not clear even till the end whether the monster was a figment of Conor’s imagination or provided it was, in fact, something real but perhaps it is better this way. The author has kept the imagination of the monster open-ended. Some may consider it a immense tree and some – an actual monster.

The reader has the power to think about what the monster really is – and whether it really could be referred to as the monster considering it was actually helping Conor.


The writing was so simple and yet so descriptive. No decorative words were used as it is told from the perspective of a little boy yet the simple words carried the weight of the story beautifully.

I hadn’t anticipated that I could finish it this fast. The last time I finished a book this fast was All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Perhaps this is a object with the emotional books. They don’t give you time to process everything that’s happening. You turn pages so fast and read more and more.

And then the story hits you.

This book deals with the pain of loss and heartbreak. He is just a boy and he has witnessed his parents’ divorce and now the possibility of losing the parent he lives with (his Dad lives in a different country now) seems too uncertain and scary. And we can’t help but sympathize with him.

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


This is a book that I would recommend everyone to read at least once. I say this not only because of the plot of the book but also because of the 3 tales that the monster narrates. It makes us realize that not every situation is black and white. It could sometimes be grey and it is not up to us to judge people based on their thoughts. The actions they take would judge their character.

“You do not write your life with words. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”

You’ll like this book whether :

  • You like emotional fiction novels
  • You would like to read a book you can finish fast
  • You like books with a bit of fantastical element to it
  • You would like a light read, something that doesn’t need a enormous commitment
  • You’d like to begin reading or get back into reading
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