Sarah Crossan on a novel about our ultimate fears…
Oh, how I wish I’d written A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. And this wasn’t something I realized when asked to write this post, nor a conclusion I reached once I’d closed the book. Jealousy burned by the time I’d finished reading the first page. And love of course. Love burned in me too.
This is a novel about our ultimate fears and how we can go on living when these fears have been realized. Conor is a boy who, aside from being relentlessly bullied at school, is coping with the demise of his sick mother at home. He is a weak character, in many ways, but no weaker than any of us would be faced with similar circumstances. And ultimately, he has the courage to face a monster.
The emotional landscape of this novel is so convincing, it’s easy to suspend disbelief. Reading A Monster Calls, I not only felt empathy for Conor, but that I somehow owned his fears and pain, and I felt compelled to love him as a result. But isn’t that the mark of a true masterpiece: the feeling, when reading, that the novel doesn’t really belong to the writer, but to you, the reader?
A Monster Calls is sheer perfection.
A Monster Calls (978 1 4063 3934 5) by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay is published by Walker at £8.99 pbk.
Sarah Crossan’s latest novel Breathe (97814088 2719 2) is published by Bloomsbury at £6.99 pbk.