Bookshots: "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.
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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