A Monster Calls bookcover

A Monster Calls

Patrick Ness, Jim Kay

The monster showed up just 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 one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

Latest reviews

Facing fears

Emotive, Meaningful, Potentially tear jerking Easy, Pleasant read

A thoughtful and honest look at grief and letting go. This story is told from the point of view of Coner a twelve year old boy whose mum has cancer. The story recounts Coner's encounter with a monster who visits him and tells him 3 stories. The novel uses stories to broach the complex idea of coming to terms with our own and other mortality. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time and made me really think a lot. I would recommend this for mature year 6 children and above. As an adult reading it I felt it was very emotional because of my understanding of the world now but a child reading it would have a very different experience. It is told in a sensitive way and it is very clever in its approach to the subject of death.

This book is stunning. I remember it knocking me for six when I read it for the first time a few years ago, but I would say that rereading it as an adult, and as someone who has experienced real loss in the last few years, was a deeply moving experience. Literally no faults. Cannot wait to teach this.

It's scary but fun of learning about d***h the mum has cancer and does Tom is haunted by a monster so I do we recommend this book for older people like 13 or over but I loved the monster more because he was big and strong with a scary accent

AMC is one of the most immersive reading experiences this librarian has ever had. The book held me from the first to last page and still continues to do so days (and I suspect months and years) later. Written by Patrick Ness, from an idea given by the late Siobhan Dowd, and in its simplest form, the story is about grief and loss, truth and healing. These themes spoke not just for the characters in the story, but intensely to me as the reader. The novel resonated clearly with my own cancer experience, as a mum with young children around Conor's age, and I found many points of connection with how he identifies but can't express how he is feeling. With stories that contain such triggering subjects, we must be mindful of the readers to whom we recommend this book. However, I feel this novel epitomises the importance of librarians and reader teachers 'getting the right book to the right child, at the right time'. For some young people this book at the right time will be life-changing. For me it will be a life-lasting novel.

A book that tugs on the heartstrings throughout. The descriptions of the monster are captivating and give the book a magical feel. It authentically gives an insight into grief and loss; the whole way through I was pleading for Conor’s story to get better. A heart-breaking story that tackles some hard-hitting themes: depression, bullying and cancer.

I have avoided reading this book as I thought I would just find it too sad. As a school librarian, I know that I should be open to reading all types of books, but sometimes that's not how it goes. However, I am SO GLAD that i did finally pick it up. Once i started reading, I couldn't put it down - it is an incredible book! Yes, it is very sad, but author Patrick Ness writes Siobhan Dowd's story in a way that is also uplifting, with memories of the past and hopes for the future.

A complex book that deals sensitively with some really difficult issues. I'm torn as I can't imagine using it as a class reader - I feel the variety of maturity and responses would make it extremely tricky BUT I also feel the layers of meaning really need 'teasing out'. Connor's journey and attempts to finally come to terms with his situation (including his rage) are beautifully done. Maybe a recommend to smaller groups who want/need to explore the issues?

This was an emotional and dramatic story with up and downs but as you know not every Cinderella gets there prince charming and as a recommendation I would not recommend this to children as they may be to young to understand the struggle and problems that the main character Connor is going through.

This is my top book to recommend out of all I've read in the last couple of years. It is superbly written and incredibly moving. It is certainly unflinching but deals sensitively with a host of emotions. This story can teach a huge amount about humans and how we deal with the worst of situations.

I thought this book was amazing! I loved the story line. It had sad parts to it and it gave my class some points to discuss. Loved the illustrations too.

Not knowing anything about this book, I presumed from the title it was a teenage horror, fantasy novel. However, I was pleasantly surprised that whilst Ness intertwines the fantastical monster (in the form of a powerful Yew tree), the monster acts as more of a metaphorical guide and teacher to Conor, the protagonist, as he struggles with overwhelming emotions, such as love, grief, and loneliness, whilst his mother battles cancer. This is an important read for young people (and adults) as it breathes empathy and understanding into the reader in a sensitive and delicate manner.

Very moving , very powerful. One of those books which I have been meaning to read for a number of years and which I read in two days- well two nights! Couldn't put it down. Connor's mum is ill- very ill- and yet she remains so positive , so loving - the tender scenes with her son are so poignant. The big C is never mentioned but it's there all the time , haunting Connor who is determined to remain positive , convinced his mum will pull through despite his gran and dad trying to get him to face the horrible reality that mum is fighting a losing battle. The relationship that develops with the "monster" is wholly engrossing- dramatic, powerful- beautifully constructed by Ness. It captures the rage , the fear , the vulnerability of a teenage boy in an awful position. The novel champions the power of storytelling and the theme of bullying. It never shies away from the dark subject matter and presents it with such grace and gentility. The dialogue is always so fresh, so natural and real. It is never pretentious, always accessible and thought provoking-a must for students, teachers, all. Highly recommended. A real tribute to Siobhan O'Dowd- Patrick Ness has produced a masterpiece that really does her proud.

Powerful and will make you cry. Not for primary school.

This is the best book I have read in a long time. I openly sobbed out loud in a public place when reading this book.

I like the monsters appearance

I have thouroughly enjoyed reading this book in school. Whilst it’s a bit sad that Conor’s mum is ill still a very entertaining book that leaves you on an edge every time you finish a chapter.

It was a fascinating insight into grief and loss and an absolute heartbreaker. However, strangely uplifting and a wonderful work through of emotions.

This is not a book a primary child should read independently due to themes of depression, bullying and cancer. It is however great for shared reading to inspire conversations and pulling apart the text. I’d recommend the illustration version to add another layer to the story.

The Reading Agency

Join our mailing list

Get our newsletters to stay up to date with programme news, resources, news and more.

Back to Top