Patrick Ness won a mantelpieceful of awards for his last book, A Monster Calls (2011), about a 13-year-old boy with a dying mother who learns how to relieve his suppressed anxieties by talking about them. The figure who coaxes his secrets from him is, as the title suggests, an obliging monster who pays him midnight visits. The human compulsion to keep a part of oneself secret is a theme that Ness explores repeatedly in his work. It is at the heart of Chaos Walking, his remarkable dystopian trilogy in which human refugees (from Earth, we presume) find themselves on a planet on which it is possible to hear each other’s thoughts, and those who wish to keep their inner selves hidden learn to sublimate and control their thought processes.
It is central, too, to Ness’s new book, The Crane Wife. This is his first novel in a decade for adults, although, as few readers of any age could fail to be thrilled by his young-adult fiction, it might be better to describe it as his first novel in a