Title/Author: The Night Gardener / JONATHAN AUXIER
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction / Paranormal
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date of publish: May 2014
This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.
“Lots of creepiness, memorable characters, a worthy message, Auxier’s atmospheric drawings and touches of humor amid the horror make this cautionary tale one readers will not soon forget.”
–Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale.”
–School Library Journal, starred review
“Auxier achieves an ideal mix of adventure and horror, offering all of it in elegant, atmospheric language that forces the reader to slow down a bit and revel in both the high-quality plot and the storytelling itself.”
–Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“All proper scary stories require a spooky, menacing atmosphere, and Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes) delivers the goods with his precise descriptions of the gothic setting and teasing hints of mystery and suspense.”
–The Horn Book Magazine
This is a terrific Middle Grade story that will enthrall boys and girls alike. Youngsters freshly emigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine, find work at an isolated manor house. The house, and the family they are to care for, hide many secrets and it is instantly obvious that something isn’t quite right about the situation. Leaving is not an option and they soon find themselves wrapped up in the tale of this blighted family, their run down manor house and the sinister tree that dominate their lives.
I will admit I was expecting a creepy story, what I didn’t expect was well written cautionary tale driven by characters that leap off the page and stick with you. The first sentence hooks you for a slow wind up to an exciting well paced story. The scariest part of this story is not the menacing supernatural creature that haunts the Windsor house, but rather the base human nature which makes us all fallible.
I wouldn’t recommend this story for kids younger than fourth grade as it does have its horror moments. Older kids, teens and adults will enjoy this and it would make a great classroom study with discussion about history, the power of the spoken word and being careful what you wish for. I am posting this with my Halloween reads, but it is suitable for any time in the year you feel like being a little scared.
JONATHAN AUXIER is a NYT Bestselling author of strange stories for strange children. His first novel Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes was an ABA New Voices pick and a BookPage Magazine “Best Book” of 2011. His bestselling Night Gardener is a Junior Library Guild selection, an ABA IndieNext pick, an Amazon Editor’s Pick of the Month, and winner of the TD Book Prize and ILA Book Award. His newest novel, Sophie Quire & the Last Storyguard is in stores now. He lives in Pittsburgh with his family and their adorable pet umbrella.