The touching true story behind A Monster Calls

October 26, 2017

Grab the tissues and ice-cream, and get ready for an emotional roller-coaster when you watch A Monster Calls.

Based on the heartbreaking book of the same name, this dark fable in the vein of The NeverEnding Story and Pan’s Labyrinth is a beautiful and tragic story about untimely death and coping with grief.

The film follows a young Conor O’Malley (brilliantly played by young up-and-comer Lewis MacDougall) as he struggles to come to terms with his terminally ill mother’s (Felicity Jones) worsening condition, all the while suffering relentless bullying at school and failing to get on with his grandmother & would-be caretaker (Sigourney Weaver). That is until he’s visited by a gigantic tree-monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) who offers a series of dark riddles and cautionary tales to help him cope with his difficult life.

But what might surprise you is the equally heartbreaking story behind the writing of the book.

While acclaimed author Patrick Ness ultimately completed the novel, and went on to write the film’s screenplay, the original concept and story came from the imagination of the late Siobhan Dowd, who was herself diagnosed with cancer in 2004 just as her writing career was taking off.

Completing four critically acclaimed novels before her passing in 2007 (with two published posthumously), Dowd’s publisher Walker Books entrusted Ness to complete A Monster Calls.

“She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning,” writes Ness in the book’s Author’s Note. “What she didn’t have, unfortunately, was time.”


Buy it first on digital now. New to buy or rent on DVD & digital November 8.

Stay informed

Get our fortnightly newsletter for the latest film and TV news and competitions!

And don't forget to follow us on our social channels