Ok so I run into Jill from Rhapsody in Books in the early morning Javitz line at BEA, and she’s all Patrick Ness’ new book is going to be out at wampwamp publisher’s booth, number wampwamp. And then ten minutes later my sister and I are in the 2600s because that’s all we can remember of the wampwamps and I’m DESPAIRING because once you lose someone at BEA you never find them again UNLESS THEY ARE LOOKING FOR THE SAME BOOTH YOU ARE! So I see Jill and I scamper over and neither of us can find the booth and we’re standing and despairing IN UNISON when we realize we’re standing right in front of it, and then we both kind of paw at the book in delight for a while. What I’m saying is, this book and I almost didn’t come together and that would have been a tragedy of the highest order.
Speaking of tragedies! (I am the valedictorian of segues.) If you think That Thing That Happened in The Knife Of Never Letting Go That Made Us All Rend Our Garments in Anguish, if you think that was cheap and exploitative than be ye warned, here is a mum dying of cancer. You will probably want to look away.
However, if you think that particular Moment Of Anguish was deft and boldly done, step up for seconds. There’s no way this isn’t going to be wrenching. Little boy, broken family, mum dying of cancer, and then a monster comes to call.
Ok so Conor has a recurring nightmare and is being bullied and also his mum is dying and then also the yew tree across the way turns into a GIANT CREECHUR and comes a-creeping in. But not to eat him, like. I know! Queer behavior from a monster. It comes to tell him three stories, and then to take a story from him in return.
The stories are curious and unpredictable like fairy tales, where the unexpected are punished and the moral is always something slightly left of center. Conor thinks he knows what for, but the story and the monster and LIFE all get very bait-and-switchy. And the whole shebang is a very cruel mess, but also a very kind and important one.
Adding to the excellence is, like, here is the monster having a sit-down:
Sooer spooky, right? But then there are birdies sitting in his back-twigs, which is kind of emblematic of the book altogether, spooky but also birdies. And then adding to the heart-stringing is the whole Based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd, who DIED before she could write the book. I know.
Oh Patrick Ness, you have my heart and no qualms about wringing it. You mean, impetuous thing.
Requisite ass-covering: book recieved at BEA (at the Candlewick booth! Right? I think), is out in the UK but does not come out in the US until September alas. Book Depository that shit.