By Mike Miller
December 21, 2016 10:00 AM

If he ever decides to put his acting career on hold, Liam Neeson has a bright future in narration.

In his latest film, the Irish-born Oscar nominee lends his rich brogue to the big-screen adaptation of A Monster Calls, the acclaimed graphic novel by Patrick Ness (from a story originated by Siobhan Dowd).

But ahead of the film’s limited release this Friday (and its world premiere on Jan. 6), Neeson is treating fans to a dramatic reading of the graphic novel’s first chapter. The clip, debuted above exclusively on PEOPLE, features video of Neeson reading the chapter, interspersed with clips of the upcoming film.

A Monster Calls tells the story of a young boy struggling to cope with his mother’s terminal illness. He finds solace with the help of a terrifying monster that takes the form of a tree and tells tales that give meaning to his feelings of grief, anger and loss. The film is directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible) and stars Pan actor Lewis MacDougall as the boy, Felicity Jones as his mother, and Liam Neeson as the titular monster.

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In a previous featurette that ran exclusively on PEOPLE, Neeson said of the film, “A Monster Calls deals with how to grow as a young boy and where you fit in the world — and we’ve all been through that. We all have tales to tell.”

Bayona previously told Entertainment Weekly that the film “doesn’t deal with cancer and bullies in a sentimental way.” He continued, “Cancer and bullying are such big themes, they can handle a film all on their own. You need to be careful. It’s strong material. Ultimately the message of this film is more about how we cope with the truth. It’s tricky and it’s something I’ve never experienced before. In the edit room, if we changed one single piece of the scene, the whole movie would change.”

A Monster Calls premieres in limited theaters on Dec. 23, and opens wide on Jan. 6.