A Monster Calls is a low fantasy novel written for children by Patrick Ness “from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd”, illustrated by Jim Kay, and published by Walker in 2011. Set in present-day England, it features a boy who struggles to cope with the consequences of his mother’s terminal cancer; he is repeatedly visited in the middle of the night by a monster who tells stories. Dowd suffered from terminal cancer herself when she started the story and died before she could write it.
Patrick Ness and illustrator Kay won the Carnegie Medal and the Greenaway Medal in 2012, the “year’s best” children’s literary awards by the British librarians (CILIP). A Monster Calls is the only book whose author and illustrator, whether two persons or one, have won both Medals
The story opens with 13-year-old Conor O’Malley waking from the same nightmare he has been experiencing for the past few months, “the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming”. At seven minutes after midnight (12:07), a voice calls to him from outside his bedroom window, which overlooks an old church and its graveyard and is sheltered by a yew tree. Walking to the window, Conor meets the monster, a towering mass of branches and leaves in human shape. The monster insists that Conor summoned it, and that it will help Conor by telling him three short stories. In exchange Conor must tell his own story afterward.