A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Book & Play Review

Aug 17, 2018 | Book Reviews, Books, Theatre & Events

I feel a bit late to the Patrick Ness party. I first discovered my love for his books at last year’s YALC, where I met him and got my copy of A Monster Calls signed.

I already knew how wonderful he was before I met him, mostly because of his connections with Doctor Who and also because of my friend Sarah’s love for him… but my genuine appreciation for him and his work started right then.

Little did I know, he’d become one of my favourite authors (despite not reading many of his books)!

A Monster Calls: the Book

I recently (finally) read A Monster Calls and I don’t know why I didn’t read it before! There’s a reason it’s being called a modern classic – it’s incredible.

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isnÂ’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…


The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.


Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

I pretty much already knew the main gist of the story before I started reading because it’s so well-known, but I was sucked into the story instantly. Patrick Ness writes in a way that is universal for anyone of any age to adore his stories, and I love that although it’s aimed at older children, it’s also an adult classic.

The book didn’t make me cry as it seems to do for everyone else, but that isn’t to say the emotional part of it wasn’t written well – it’s stunning. It just takes A LOT to make me cry. (I’ve literally only ever cried at one book, and maybe a couple of films. Bonus points if you can guess what they are.) I can definitely understand why people need their tissues out, though… so be warned!

A Monster Calls is emotional, poignant, but with glimmers of hope. It’s a story of longing for everything to be okay, but with a lesson of the importance of letting go – however hard it might be.

A Monster Calls: the Play

Before YALC this year, we went to see the stage adaptation of A Monster Calls at London’s Old Vic Theatre and I’m SO glad we got to see it! The show has a limited run of only a few weeks, so I feel lucky that we happened to be in London at the same time as its run.

The whole stage was made up of a plain white background, lines of chairs, and ropes hanging from the ceiling. I wondered how they’d create the tree on stage, and the way they did it was amazing! The tree was made entirely using the ropes, and the actors climbed up and became intertwined in them. You really believe that these hanging ropes really are a roaming tree monster.

The actor who played Conor seriously deserves all of the praise and recognition that he can get because he was incredible. The entire cast were amazing, but he really made the show. I hope he goes far!

If you’ve seen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime on stage, you can imagine the feeling of this show. The minimal set and the cast, especially the one who played Conor, reminded me so much of it.

By the time this post goes out, the show’s run at the Old Vic will probably be over, but if they do another run, I’d highly recommend trying to get tickets.

What do you think?

Have you read A Monster Calls, or did you see the play in London? Let me know if you loved it as much as I did!

I'm Charlotte: media graduate, virtual assistant and avid reader. I'm a Hufflepuff, a space fanatic, and I love to write about books. More about me...

Follow Wonderfully Bookish on WordPress.com