Monsters have haunted literature for centuries, going back to the earliest stories told to children or as a cautionary tale to weary travellers. So it was natural that movies would come to inherit the monster and over the last century, cinema has done just that. However, in spite of the many years of Dracula stalking the shadows, werewolves prowling the moonlit countryside and a particular radioactive prehistoric lizard flattening the Tokyo cityscape, there have been certain ‘monsters’ whose motives and actions have been far less dark or destructive, from the sweet and colourful community of Monsters, Inc. to Ron Perlman’s big red in Hellboy. So it is that another well-intentioned creature comes a-calling in this much-anticipated adaptation of the acclaimed low fantasy novel A Monster Calls.
Originally beginning life as a concept by the late British writer Siobhan Dowd, A Monster Calls was a novel grounded in a very personal sense of tragedy, as Dowd was suffering from terminal cancer as she formulated the idea and sadly passed away before she could ever finish the book herself. However, Dowd arranged to write it alongside Walker Books editor Denise Johnstone-Burt, who saw to it that the book was completed and handed that duty to Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking trilogy). As Ness put it in his author’s note of the novel, “She [Dowd] had the characters, a premise, and a beginning. What she didn’t have, unfortunately, was time”. However, alongside illustrator Jim Kay, Ness and Johnstone-Burt’s efforts proved beneficial, as A Monster Calls was released in 2011 to great acclaim, winning num