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 one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
This novel made me cry – I love when a book can do that, when it can really makes you think and feel for the characters.
It is a fantasy novel that was an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, who’s premature death from cancer prevented her from writing this. Patrick Ness has made a beautiful job of it and it really is an honest, heartwarming, tear jerking book that I am glad I got to read.
The first chapter got me hooked immediately and I was dying to know what the monster (part scary giant, part wild yew tree) wanted with Conor O’Malley.
You quickly learn that the purpose of his visits were to tell Conor three stories so he could tell him one back. These mysterious morals knock Conor off balance – but he is not terrified of the monster because he already fears something worse. Something “beyond terrible“. He knows he is watching his beloved mother die.
It really surprised me but I was intrigued to read on from each story to know what the next one was.
The story was initially written for children, but I really think all ages can enjoy this book – I know I did!
The way Ness approaches the subject of cancer is done in such a beautiful way, that it can help children in Conor’s situation understand the whole process and know that it is ok to lash out.
During the story, Conor’s mum goes through an array of treatments whilst Conor continues to attend school. The book has a harsh sadness about it as Conor has to endure bulling from class mates and forced sympathy from teachers, while he waits and hopes for a miracle that will not come.
Ultimately, Conor has to face his demons and admit that he just wants it to be over. To stop having to think about it.
I had a lump in my throat towards the end of this book, it’s so difficult not to fill with emotion when Conor’s mother calls to him from her hospital bed and says: “Won’t you come and sit next to your tired old mum?”.
I was honestly in bits. Having not dealt personally with cancer within my family, I feel that those who have may find this a dark and mourning-full read. However, it is a charming and heart-rending tale, tender and eviscerating in turn. But there is honesty and great beauty there too that should not put anyone off.
I loved this book from beginning to end, even the illustrations of the monster make me think and feel Conor’s first impressions of him. I would recommend this to anyone who loves books.
So that’s it for me!
What did you think of this story?
Charlie ♡ x