Study Guide

A Monster Calls Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

The First Tale

  • Here's the monster's first story in a nutshell: 
  • Back in the day, many years ago, there was a kingdom where Conor's house stands now. The houses were shaded by lots of trees, and there were giants, dragons, wizards, the whole nine yards.
  • There was also a king, who did battle with all these creatures, during which he lost his four sons. But hey, at least he secured the kingdom. 
  • The king was left with only one heir, an infant grandson. Even with this sign of hope, though, the queen up and died, as did the baby's mother. 
  • So the king had to remarry, and he chose a princess, who was kind of snippy, but not the worst wife in the world. 
  • For a while at least. Things took a turn for the worse when, two years before the king's grandson was to turn 18 and ascend to the throne, the king got sick, and people began to whisper that the princess was poisoning him.
  • See, the princess had magic powers. In fact, she was really an old hag, but she had made herself look young. It was all very suspect.
  • And when the king finally died, she became queen. At first, she ruled just as the king had, and the populace actually kind of liked her.
  • Meanwhile, the prince fell in love with a farm girl. The kingdom was cool with it; the queen was most decidedly not.
  • Her answer? The prince should marry her instead. As in, the queen. Which Conor understandably thinks is pretty gross. Like marrying your step-grandmother. Awkward, much?
  • So the prince and his girlfriend ran away on horseback, stopping only to sleep under—you guessed it—the yew tree.
  • When it's time to wake up and go get married, the prince sees that his girlfriend is dead and there's a knife on the ground. Then he sees the blood on his hands.
  • He decides that this was a setup: the queen had the girl murdered and framed him. 
  • He hears the villagers coming to get revenge, but he can't run, because his horse is gone.
  • So the monster came to life in order to help him. He may be a monster, but he doesn't like injustice any more than the next guy.
  • The prince goes running toward the villagers and tells them the queen is responsible. Because the villagers like the prince better than the queen anyway, they believe him.
  • So they turn around and storm the castle. They grab the queen and drag her off to burn her alive.
  • Conor's starting to like this story—things are getting exciting. 
  • He asks the monster if he can lend a hand with Conor's grandma, since he's kind of in a similar situation.
  • Hold up, says the monster. I'm not done with the story yet.

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