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I’m 29 and I happened upon this book as a recommendation from a page I follow on Facebook. When I read the plot summary, it really sounded like something right up my alley, particularly as it took place in England in the Victorian era which I LOVE, and it involved two individuals who worked as servants in a large house. Yup. Right up my alley. I began reading it and was instantly hooked. The author, Mr. Auxier, builds the suspense and crafts this tale very smartly. He leaves you wanting more and more until the very end, but doesn’t draw it out so as to make it boring or taxing. It’s a fine line and he walks it expertly. The book is a fast read and the plot moves quickly, which is something I like. I’m admittedly not a voracious reader so a book REALLY has to grab me and keep me wanting more. The Night Gardener did just that. I found myself surprised that the intended audience is 9-14 because I feel that it reads much older and is really for any age. The plot unfolds chapter by chapter and you find yourself asking, "What in the WORLD is going on in this house?!" You just want to know the answer, and as you turn the pages, you get more and more of said answers until you get to the thrilling conclusion, which admittedly had my heart pumping. It’s creepy, mysterious, suspenseful, and has a good heart all at the same time. The two main characters, Molly and Kip, are instantly likable and relatable. This is definitely a book for all ages. I’m a grown woman, no kids, and I absolutely loved it. It kept my attention and was a definite page-turner. Couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend it! As someone else said, however, some younger readers might find it scary, especially if they’re reading it before bed!Lastly, as a side note, I found it interesting that in the author’s note at the end, Mr. Auxier mentions that one of his inspirations for this book was "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which is one of my all-time favorite books (and movies — check out the 1993 version with Maggie Smith). I just adore the story. It amused me greatly when I read that, because the plot summary alone reminded me instantly of The Secret Garden, which is actually why I decided to read it. Indeed, the story itself reminded me of it as well. That made me love "The Night Gardener" all the more! Check it out!
From School Library Journal Gr 4–6—Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale. Irish immigrants to England, Molly and Kip make their way to the Windsor house in search of employment. The great house stands in the shadow of a menacing tree, which locals speak of only in fearful whispers. Despite her young age and the warnings of a local storyteller, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work, but soon realizes that all is not right in the house. Constance, Bertrand, Penny, and Alistair Windsor each struggle with personal demons, and strange footprints appear at night. A malevolent spirit, the Night Gardener, haunts the estate, dooming its inhabitants with foul dreams while the tree grants wishes to entrap the recipients. Molly and Kip must face their own dark secrets to release the Gardener’s hold and end his evil enchantments. Auxier gives readers a spooky story with depth and dimension. Molly’s whimsical tales illustrate life’s essential lessons even as they entertain. As the characters face the unhealthy pull of the tree’s allurements, they grow and change, revealing unexpected personality traits. Storytelling as a force to cope with life’s challenges is subtly expressed and adds complexity to the fast-paced plot. Readers of Mary Downing Hahn or Peg Kehret’s ghost novels will connect with the supernatural elements and the independent child protagonists of Auxier’s tale of things that go bump in the night.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
The Night Gardener Hardcover – May 20, 2014 by Jonathan Auxier (Author) Review
This deliciously creepy tale by Jonathan Auxier follows the woeful adventures of Molly and Kip, two Irish children trying to make their own way in Victorian England after they get separated from their parents. Desperate for work and a place to call home, the children take jobs as servants to the Windsor family, who live far away from the city in an isolated region people refer to with a shudder as the sourwoods. Although passersby warn them with vague rumors about death and curses, Molly and Kip persist on their journey to the Windsor estate, knowing this opportunity may be their only chance for a safe home. Upon their arrival, the children cant help but notice that the estate is in sad disrepair. The roof of the house sags and the lawn is overgrown with weeds. However, what stands out more than anything else is a huge tree so close to the house that some of its branches have grown through the walls. The longer Molly and Kip stay, the more they realize there is an eerie connection between the tree and all the strange things they observe at the house: the Windsor familys sallow, sickly complexions, nightmares that plague everyone at bedtime, unidentified mud footprints trekked in from outside, a mysterious room upstairs that is kept locked at all times, and many more inexplicable mysteries. But just when Molly and Kip decide they need to leave this dangerous place, the power of the tree lures them in. Can they save themselves? Is it too late to save the Windsor family?The Night Gardener isnt just a scary story, though. It is also a beautifully written fable about courage, family bonds, and the difference between a story and a lie. And the premise is really interesting: what would happen if the Tree of Life were eeeeevillll? (I just wanted to say that. ) I am definitely adding this to my favorites and will reread it again and again. -Read Reviews-
‘Help me grow tall, and you shall receiveAll that you wish inside of me. ‘This story at first appears to be ripped from the pages of the Brothers Grimm. There are a pair of orphans, one a plucky young heroine, the other, a little lame boy. After making a deal with a beggar woman (witch in disguise?), they enter a deep, dark (enchanted?) forest. What awaits them there is deliciously forbidding, frightening and wondrous. ..Molly and her younger brother venture to the sinister Windsor house to gain employment. The home is built around a hideous tree. The strange family living there appears to be down on their luck; a harridan of a mother, a scrawny, but lovable six-year-old girl, her nasty bully of a brother, and a mostly absent, ineffectual father. They are all thin, pale and sickly. One day while cleaning the library, Molly is astonished to find a portrait of the smiling, healthy-looking family painted only a year earlier. What could have happened to change the residents of this house in such a short time? Is it the horrific dreams they all suffer nightly? Or the nocturnal visitor who roams the rooms, leaving muddy footprints and terror behind? Or does it have something to do with the locked room that Molly has been warned not to open?Here is a magical tale, both atmospheric and creepy. There are a few VERY chilling scenes, though it should be fine for children ages ten and up. If reading aloud, be prepared to continue until you are hoarse, as I imagine most little ones will not let you stop.
Tags: Ages 9-12 Fiction, Brothers and sisters, Children: Grades 4-6, Children's Books, chillers (Children's, Family, Family - Siblings, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Ghost Stories (Young Adult), Ghosts, Harry N. Abrams, Historical - Europe, Horror, Horror & ghost stories, Household employees, Jonathan Auxier, Juvenile Fiction, Siblings, Teenage), The Night Gardener