Bookshots: "The Boy Who Drew Monsters"

The Boy Who Drew Monsters


The Boy Who Drew Monsters

Who wrote it?

Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child. More info at his website.

Plot in a Box

In a wintery, sparsely populated coastal town in Maine, a boy with Asperger Syndrome draws the ghosts from an 19th-century shipwreck into existence, much to his parents’ dismay.

Invent a new title for this book

A Portrait of the Autist as a Young Man

Read this if you liked

The Shining, The Turn of the Screw, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories that Scared Even Me

Meet the book’s lead

Jack Peter, aka Jip, a boy with a most creative mind and a disturbing ability to draw dead people back to life.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by

Jerry (“the Beaver”) Mathers, cast against type

Setting: would you want to live here?

Not on your life, or mine, or those of any of the spirits who call the place home. It’s too cold in Maine in the winter, for one thing, and for another, I tend to avoid areas with a large and hideous ghost population.

What was your favorite sentence?

Can’t say I had one.

The Verdict 

I raced through The Boy Who Drew Monsters, was completely caught up in the tale, and finished it without fully enjoying it. Parts of it are genuinely disturbing—scary, even—and it makes a good book for the week of Halloween. Jack Peter, the troubled eponymous child, is certainly well drawn, as are his parents, a local Catholic priest, and the priest’s Japanese housekeeper.

Jip’s only friend, Nick, is somewhat less convincing. His character is believable, and his ambivalence about Jip is more than understandable, given Jip’s Asperger’s. Their strange bond is more or less a given, and the ending of the novel answers the question why.

But a central incident in the story is peculiarly conceived, if reasonably well executed. It’s psychologically perverse, which I suppose it is meant to be. But it’s at the heart of the story, and it doesn’t entirely make sense. The ending hinges on this past event, and I can’t help but feel somewhat confused by it, even after the explanation. Still, The Boy Who Drew Monsters creeped me out, and what better praise is there for a ghost story?


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Cath Murphy's picture
Cath Murphy from UK is reading Find out on the Unpr!ntable podcast October 7, 2014 - 4:29am

One of my fellow book-fans just commented that this reminded him of Iain Banks' last book The Quarry. Being compared to Banks can't be a bad thing.