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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Night Gardener

  1. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    For whatever reason, 2014 is a dark year in children’s middle grade fiction. I speak from experience. Fantasy in particular has been steeped in a kind of thoughtful darkness, from The Glass Sentence and The Thickety to The Riverman and Twelve Minutes to Midnight with varying levels of success. And though none would contest the fact that they are creepy, only Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener has had the chutzpah to actually write, “A Scary Story” on its title pages as a kind of thoughtful dar For whatever reason, 2014 is a dark year in children’s middle grade fiction. I speak from experience. Fantasy in particular has been steeped in a kind of thoughtful darkness, from The Glass Sentence and The Thickety to The Riverman and Twelve Minutes to Midnight with varying levels of success. And though none would contest the fact that they are creepy, only Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener has had the chutzpah to actually write, “A Scary Story” on its title pages as a kind of thoughtful dare. A relatively new middle grade author, still young in the field, reading this book it’s hard to reconcile it with Auxier's previous novel Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. It is almost as if Mr. Auxier took his whimsy, pulled out a long sharp stick, and stabbed it repeatedly in the heart and left it to die in the snow so as to give us a sublimely horrific little novel. Long story short this novel is Little Shop of Horrors meets The Secret Garden. I hope I’m not giving too much away by saying that. Even if I am, I regret nothing. Here we have a book that ostensibly gives us an old-fashioned tale worthy of Edgar Allan Poe, but that steeps it in a serious and thought provoking discussion of the roles of both lies and stories when you’re facing difficulties in your life. Madcap brilliant. Molly and Kip are driving a fish cart, pulled by a horse named Galileo, to their deaths. That’s what everyone’s been telling them anyway. Living without parents, Molly sees herself as her brother’s guardian and is intent upon finding a safe place for the both of them. When she’s hired to work as a servant at the mysterious Windsor estate she thinks the job might be too good to be true. Indeed, the place (located deep in something called “the sour woods”) is a decrepit old mansion falling apart at the seams. The locals avoid it and advise the kids to do so too. Things are even stranger inside. The people who live in the hollow home appear to be both pale and drawn. And it isn’t long before both Molly and Kip discover the mysterious night gardener, who enters the house unbidden every evening, tending to a tree that seems to have a life of its own. A tree that can grant you your heart’s desire if you would like. And all it wants in return? Nothing you’d ever miss. Just a piece of your soul. For a time, the book this most reminded me of was M.P. Kozlowsky’s little known Juniper Berry, a title that could rival this one in terms of creepiness. Both books involve trees and wishes and souls tied into unlawful bargains with dark sources. There the similarities end, though. Auxier has crafted with undeniable care a book that dares to ask whether or not the things we wish for are the things best for us in the end. His storytelling works in large part too because he gives us a unique situation. Here we have two characters that are desperately trying to stay in an awful, dangerous situation by any means necessary. You sympathize with Molly’s dilemma at the start, but even though you’re fairly certain there’s something awful lurking beneath the surface of the manor, you find yourself rooting for her, really hoping that she gets the job of working there. It’s a strange sensation, this dual hope to both save the heroine and plunge her into deeper danger. What really made The Night Gardener stand out for me, however, was that the point of the book (insofar as I could tell) was to establish storytelling vs. lies. At one point Molly thinks seriously about what the difference between the two might be. “Both lies and stories involved saying things that weren’t true, but somehow the lies inside the stories felt true.” She eventually comes to the conclusion that lies hurt people and stories help them, a statement that is met with agreement on the part of an old storyteller named Hester who follows the words up with, “But helps them to do what?” These thoughts are continued later when Molly considers further and says, “A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens ‘em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide.” Nuff said. As I mentioned before, Auxier’s previous novel Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was his original chapter book debut. As a devotee of Peter Pan and books of that ilk, it felt like more of an homage at times that a book that stood on its own two feet. In the case of The Night Gardener no such confusion remains. Auxier’s writing has grown some chest hair and put on some muscles. Consider, for example, a moment when Molly has woken up out of a bad dream to find a dead leaf in her hair. “Molly held it up against the window, letting the moonlight shine through its brittle skin. Tiny twisted veins branched out from the center stem – a tree inside a tree.” I love the simplicity of that. Particularly when you take into account the fact that the tree that created the leaf may not have been your usual benign sapling. In the back of the book in his Author’s Note Auxier acknowledges his many influences when writing this. Everything from Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes to The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon Gent. by Washington Irving to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s simple only on the surface The Secret Garden. All these made sense to me (though I’m not familiar with the Irving yet) but I wondered if there were other ties out there as well. For example, the character of Hester, an old storyteller and junk woman, reminded me of nothing so much as the junk woman character in the Jim Henson film Labyrinth. A character that in that film also straddles the line between lies and stories and how lying to yourself only does you harm. Coincidence or influence? Only Mr. Auxier knows for sure. If I am to have any kind of a problem with the book then perhaps it is with the Irish brogue. Not, I should say, that any American child is even going to notice it. Rather, it’ll be adults like myself that can’t help but see it and find it, ever so briefly, takes us out of the story. I don’t find it a huge impediment, but rather a pebble sized stumbling block, barely standing in the way of my full enjoyment of the piece. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling offers some very good advice on dealing with uncertain magical beings. “Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.” Would that our heroes in this book had been handed such advice early in life, but then I guess we wouldn’t have much of a story to go on, now would we? In the end, the book raises as many questions as it answers. Do we, as humans, have an innate fear of becoming beholden to the plants we tend? Was the villain of the piece’s greatest crime to wish away death? Maybe the Peter Pan influence still lingers in Mr. Auxier's pen, but comes out in unexpected ways. This is the kind of book that would happen if Captain Hook, a man most afraid of the ticking of a clock, took up horticulture instead of piracy. But the questions about why we lie to ourselves and why we find comfort in stories are without a doubt the sections that push this book from mere Hammer horror to horror that makes you stop and think, even as you run like mad to escape the psychopaths on your heels. Smart and terrifying by turns, hand this book to the kid who supped of Coraline and came back to you demanding more. Sweet creepy stuff. For ages 10 and up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darth J

    This is the tale of a spooky tree which is connected to a house, and tended by a supernatural guardian The book jacket describes this as a "spine-chilling fable in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe", and I can see hints of both in the story. The problem is that the gothic tone of both iconic storytellers is hard to keep aloft for a full novel and it wears thin here. The Night Gardener would work much better as a short story as it definitely has the bones to be comparable to Th This is the tale of a spooky tree which is connected to a house, and tended by a supernatural guardian The book jacket describes this as a "spine-chilling fable in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe", and I can see hints of both in the story. The problem is that the gothic tone of both iconic storytellers is hard to keep aloft for a full novel and it wears thin here. The Night Gardener would work much better as a short story as it definitely has the bones to be comparable to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or The Raven, but trying to make this 300+ pages really was too much of a stretch and hurt the overall atmosphere that a legend like this tries to evoke. On the plus side, the hardcover has a beautiful lenticular cover and the inside has great woodcut illustrations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    'Help me grow tall, and you shall receive All 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 ga 'Help me grow tall, and you shall receive All 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    C.

    Several times in a year, at charity sales and shops, I unearth amazing Canadian content. It is a pleasure to include Jonathan Auxier’s excellent, rightfully award-winning novel in this compliment: “The Night Gardener”, published recently in 2014. With nods to tales Jonathan loved as a kid: this story is a poignant family drama about orphans needing jobs in the late 1800s, set at a haunted house, amid a nightly unexplained horror, told in the spooky style of a legend. The motherly Sister, Brother Several times in a year, at charity sales and shops, I unearth amazing Canadian content. It is a pleasure to include Jonathan Auxier’s excellent, rightfully award-winning novel in this compliment: “The Night Gardener”, published recently in 2014. With nods to tales Jonathan loved as a kid: this story is a poignant family drama about orphans needing jobs in the late 1800s, set at a haunted house, amid a nightly unexplained horror, told in the spooky style of a legend. The motherly Sister, Brother with a deformed leg, and their horse note an atmosphere so toxic, they do not want to stay; despite a need for money and a safe place to live: the key words being safe and live! The manor’s Son and Daughter are oblivious and affected slightly. The husband, who fled the place as a child when his parents disappeared, desperately seeks business in town, with unsavoury associates. Spending nights away clearly helps. It is the wife whose health is being leeched by.... something. A secret she harbours indicates that she is permitting the toxicity, with whatever self-awareness she has left, to sustain that secret. I enjoyed it and appreciated numerous things that were achieved in it: a well-orchestrated combination of moods and story styles, a well-defined background of the house and monster legend. My favourite element is the flowers that show-up at night. I have been working at growing moonflowers for years. The novel wasn’t my five-star ideal, for being horror instead of paranormal and containing the juvenile mean boy harassing other kids. It would have gotten four stars easily, if thugs demanding money hadn’t barged-in on the family’s climatic escape. People determined to defeat a centuries-old monster, will not be overpowered by thugs! That nonsense weakened a breathless adventure that was otherwise intricate, original, and memorable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    3/10/18 $2.99 for Kindle. Loved it. Appropriate for Middle Grade readers who enjoy a bit of scare. Might be too scary for younger kids, so parents be aware. Perfectly creepy. Might start off a bit slow for some, but it builds and is very well told.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Bea

    I WILL come back to do a review because I have a lot to say lol Okay. I'm back. The Night Gardener is about: Growing up without parents; Storytelling, and its power; Survivor's guilt; The consequences of greed; & prejudices/xenophobia. When I write it out like that, I realize just how much Jonathan Auxier managed to fit in his story for young people, and how well he pulled it off; The Night Gardener is chilling, moving and, at times, heartbreaking. Molly, our main character, is the older sister of K I WILL come back to do a review because I have a lot to say lol Okay. I'm back. The Night Gardener is about: Growing up without parents; Storytelling, and its power; Survivor's guilt; The consequences of greed; & prejudices/xenophobia. When I write it out like that, I realize just how much Jonathan Auxier managed to fit in his story for young people, and how well he pulled it off; The Night Gardener is chilling, moving and, at times, heartbreaking. Molly, our main character, is the older sister of Kip. As orphans, they struggle to get by. They're Irish, and face xenophobia and discriminatory remarks from people in England, which is where the book takes place. When we meet Molly and Kip, they are traveling to the Windsor estate where they are to work as servants. The estate is surrounded by "sour woods"; the local villagers refuse to enter the woods and go to the estate, which legend has it is cursed. The Windsors are Bertram and Constance, who are parents to six year old Penny and young teenager Alistair. When Molly and Kip get to the house, however, Constance does not want the children to stay. Molly is able to convince Constance by telling her a story - Molly is quite talented in that regard. And so they stay, although they recognize that something is odd and sinister about the place. There's a tree growing alongside the house, as if its become one with the house: Most trees cast an air of quiet dignity over their surroundings. This one did not. Most trees invite you to climb up into their canopy. This one did not. Most trees make you want to carve your initials into the trunk. This one did not. To stand in the shadow of this tree was to feel a chill run through your whole body. And then there are those heavy footsteps at night: Whoever it is makes their way through the house and into their rooms. No one is able to sleep without suffering through nightmares. There's a mysterious locked room with forbidden entry. The house has an evil, dark force, which has already taken a strong hold on the Windsors; Molly and Kip must uncover the mystery before they too succumb to it. It's hard, if not impossible, to resist though: Suppose this darkness had something to offer you, and you could be granted what you wanted? What would you be willing to exchange? It was pretty brilliant of Auxier to place the story within the Victorian era. As he points out in his afterword, it "was perhaps the last point in Western history when magic and science were allowed to coexist." This idea is executed through the character of a local doctor, who witnesses Constance Windsor's declining health, but is resistant to the idea of the supernatural. There's an important character named Hester Kettle who is known for her stories - people give her things, or do her favors, in exchange for her stories. Hester helps Molly and Kip find the Windsor estate on the condition that Molly returns to Hester and tells her a story about the Windsor house. I enjoyed their interactions with Hester and the character herself - through her, we see Molly and Kip confront their assumptions about a woman who seems impoverished and carries her life on her back, and Molly learns a deeper understanding of storytelling versus lies. She knows more than Kip does about what truly happened to his parents, and throughout the book she grapples with honesty while trying to protect him from the truth. Anyway, I think I've babbled enough. This is seriously a wonderful book - such a dark, well-written fantasy, that both adults and young adults can enjoy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The Night Gardener is a middle-grade fiction novel written by Jonathan Auxier. Apparently, this is a follow-up to Mr. Auxier's debut novel (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes), but I read this as a standalone and enjoyed it as such. The Night Gardener was a buddy read between my son and myself, and the periods of dark and creepy mystery/suspense made it a fun experience for the most part. Although the ending was a bit of a let down after all of the build up, we enjoyed this novel overall. My so The Night Gardener is a middle-grade fiction novel written by Jonathan Auxier. Apparently, this is a follow-up to Mr. Auxier's debut novel (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes), but I read this as a standalone and enjoyed it as such. The Night Gardener was a buddy read between my son and myself, and the periods of dark and creepy mystery/suspense made it a fun experience for the most part. Although the ending was a bit of a let down after all of the build up, we enjoyed this novel overall. My son verbalized his feeling that The Night Gardener contained quite a bit of "filler" content and could have ended a lot sooner, especially in light of the resolution Mr. Auxier chose. Since he is in the targeted age group for this novel, I thought it was important to note this. Overall though, we are both glad we read this. My son said he personally wouldn't recommend it to others quite as strongly as it was recommended to him but he could appreciate the moral of the story and learning life lessons through reading always holds value. So proud :) My favorite quote: "Don't confuse what you do with who you are, dearie. Besides, there's no shame in humble work. Why, Aesop himself, the king of storytellers, was a slave his whole life. Never drew a free breath, yet he shaped the world with just three small words: there once was. And where are his great masters now, hmm? Rotting in tombs, if they're lucky. But Aesop - he still lives to this day, dancin' on the tip of every tongue that's ever told a tale. Think on that, next time you're scrubbing floors." 4/19/2016: Reading along with my boy. We're both looking forward to a creepy ghost story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    Reminds me of John Bellairs, but better! Creepy and atmospheric. Jonathan Auxier is a brilliant author with a talent for language that compels me to read and reread sentences and paragraphs. This is the perfect book for students who love scary books that aren't TOO scary.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Creepy as all get out. An accomplished gothic ghost story with new elements that feels very traditional. And, special bonus, it actually incorporates some of the real-life horror of the Irish Famine and Victorian poverty. Not everyone cares for this, but the author note at the end points out some of the sources that went into the mix, which offers great suggestions for further reading. Library copy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Virginie *No more time to write reviews for the moment :( *

    The Night Gardener received such praise and has a really good rating here, but it just didn't work for me. I can see why it's an interesting book (there is a good moral and the relationship between the sister and brother is inspiring), but I just wasn't in a hurry to discover how the story continued. 5*: Sad to finish it, this book was amazing 4*: Really liked it! 3*: Liked it 2*: Fell asleep a couple of times during my reading... but not entirely boring! 1*: Why did I bother to finish it?!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    Review to come tomorrow. I enjoyed reading this, but I'm not entirely sure what to make of it as a whole.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is amazing! It starts with a spooky creepy manor house, witch a spooky sickly family that takes on two Irish orphans and delves into this absolute fairy tale of a horror story Adventure, magic, creepy & spooky stuff, this book is the absolute perfect autumnal read and this book is one of my absolute favourites of 2015. If you like The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, anything by the Brothers Grimm or Edgar Allan Poe I feel you would love this book This book is amazing! It starts with a spooky creepy manor house, witch a spooky sickly family that takes on two Irish orphans and delves into this absolute fairy tale of a horror story Adventure, magic, creepy & spooky stuff, this book is the absolute perfect autumnal read and this book is one of my absolute favourites of 2015. If you like The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, anything by the Brothers Grimm or Edgar Allan Poe I feel you would love this book. I seriously cannot recommend this book enough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I read this book a few years ago right after it was published, and from what I remember, I quite enjoyed it, but for whatever reason never ended up picking up my own copy. When I stumbled upon it on Goodreads the other day I decided to give it a reread to see if was was worth buying, and oh man was it. 4 1/2 stars Plot This the story of two children, Irish immigrants during what I believe is the Potato Famine who, desperate, decide to become servants for a family who live in rural a English ma I read this book a few years ago right after it was published, and from what I remember, I quite enjoyed it, but for whatever reason never ended up picking up my own copy. When I stumbled upon it on Goodreads the other day I decided to give it a reread to see if was was worth buying, and oh man was it. 4 1/2 stars Plot This the story of two children, Irish immigrants during what I believe is the Potato Famine who, desperate, decide to become servants for a family who live in rural a English manor. When they get there, they quickly learn that something is very wrong with this house and the tree it is built around. This is a middle grade story, but I absolutely think adults and teens will love this as well. It never feels dumbed down for a young audience, and there are definitely themes I appreciated now that I likely didn't pick up on when I read this a few years ago. Writing “Ma and Da believed that if you suspected a monster was hiding under your bed, you should get down on your hands and knees and find out for certain. And if you were lucky enough to discover one down there—fangs dripping, eyes glowing red—you should be quick to offer him a blanket and a bowl of warm milk so he wouldn’t catch a chill.” The biggest strength of this book is the atmosphere. Auxier has some of the most atmospheric writing that I have ever read. Every single time I would pick this book up I would find myself instantly sucked into the story. It is truly unputdownable. “The branch was dark and smooth and slightly curved. It wasn’t a branch at all— It was the handle of an axe.” The story is a bit spooky, but if you’re looking for something that is just slightly on the creepy side, this one would be an awesome read. “It was like I could feel it Molls, right behind me. I turned around, and there, in the fog… for half a heartbeat, I thought I saw someone there, watchin’ me.” This book reads like a dark folktale or fairytale. It feels like a story I could have grown up with, something straight out of the Brothers Grimm, but coupled with just fantastic storytelling. The Characters “Don't confuse what you do with who you are, dearie. Besides, there's no shame in humble work. Why, Aesop himself, the king of storytellers, was a slave his whole life. Never drew a free breath, yet he shaped the world with just three small words: there once was. And where are his great masters now, hmm? Rotting in tombs, if they're lucky. But Aesop—he still lives to this day, dancin' on the tip of every tongue that's ever told a tale. Think on that, next time you're scrubbing floors.” Molly & Kip: these two are wonderful protagonists for young readers to read about. They have depth and discover things about themselves though the story. There are some great messages in what these kids go through. The Windsors: they could so easily have just been “the awful family Kip and Molly have to serve”, but they were given complexity and were some of the strongest characters in the story. “ “Kip, I said that to protect us. It was just a story.” “Was it? … Do they count as stories if the other person thinks they’re true?” ” I also want to mention the awesome storytelling aspect of this book. As readers, I imagine most of those who read this book will appreciate the emphasis on how magical stories can be, how important they are. I loved how it was such a big part of the book and Molly’s character. “You asked me for a story; now you call it a lie. … So tell me, then: What marks the difference between the two?” “There’s no better place for writing than on a rooftop—the fresh air makes your words come out like songs.” And it even has a bit of a historical aspect for young readers to learn about! I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to call this one of my favorite middle grade novels. It is able to create such a mood and is just a fantastic story, one I know I will be returning to. Recommended for readers young and old.

  14. 4 out of 5

    E.L.

    I picked up The Night Gardener thinking it was going to be a fantasy story for children. Based on the cover, it really did seem like that. To my surprise, this ended up being more of a horror story than anything. The plot is simple. Two orphaned children go looking for work in rural England. They come upon a position in a strange place. Something sinister is going on with the family that lives there. As the story unfolded, I often found myself in a place of melancholy. :( There was nothing brigh I picked up The Night Gardener thinking it was going to be a fantasy story for children. Based on the cover, it really did seem like that. To my surprise, this ended up being more of a horror story than anything. The plot is simple. Two orphaned children go looking for work in rural England. They come upon a position in a strange place. Something sinister is going on with the family that lives there. As the story unfolded, I often found myself in a place of melancholy. :( There was nothing bright or magical about this book, which is fine. Like I said, I think it should be placed in the horror genre. From there, things go about how you would expect. Not that the ending was very predictable. In my opinion, it was just a little dull. It was an action-packed ending, I just didn't care about the characters all that much. So there you have it. What gets me is the author's note in the back. It says it took him nine years to create this story. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why. He goes on to explain each of the story's influences, which, at times, he doesn't even bother changing the names of. I wonder if that's why the story feels a little disjointed to me. I'm going to be honest and say I don't like the horror genre. My review might be biased because of it. By all means, if you love a good, creepy story with no relief, this one might be for you. I give this 2.5/5 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    OhWell

    The Night Gardener is a Silver Birch 2015 nominee, and my youngest one was supposed to be reading it. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous cover and illustrations, so I picked it up first :) As a middle grade book, it is outstanding. It does require a strong reader though, one that is ready to move past stories whose characters are either heroes or villains, and start to understand and appreciate motivations and increased complexity. Hester, for example, brought tears to my eyes, although I’m not sure The Night Gardener is a Silver Birch 2015 nominee, and my youngest one was supposed to be reading it. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous cover and illustrations, so I picked it up first :) As a middle grade book, it is outstanding. It does require a strong reader though, one that is ready to move past stories whose characters are either heroes or villains, and start to understand and appreciate motivations and increased complexity. Hester, for example, brought tears to my eyes, although I’m not sure she would have the same effect on a child. A word of caution: for an adult, the level of creepiness is quite mild, but for a 9 to 12 year old, it’s clearly Gothic horror. Tempered by humour here and there, but horror nonetheless. Not gratuitous though, as there is a moral to the story, foreshadowed by the opening quotations. The first one is from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the other one - my favourite - from Aesop: “We would often be sorry if our wishes were granted.” And thanks to the author’s note, I now have even more entries in my “to read” list: Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury, and The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., by Washington Irwing!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Skip

    Two Irish orphans find work as servants to the Windsor family, who have moved to an old creepy house in the sourwoods. Trying to make the best of the situation, Molly cleans the house and Kip minds the stables and gardens. However, there is a sickness pervading the household and a gnarly tree abutting the house. Despite Molly's cheerfulness and wisdom through storytelling, everyone in the house suffers from bad dreams caused by an evil spirit and the tree's magic secret, which make leaving near Two Irish orphans find work as servants to the Windsor family, who have moved to an old creepy house in the sourwoods. Trying to make the best of the situation, Molly cleans the house and Kip minds the stables and gardens. However, there is a sickness pervading the household and a gnarly tree abutting the house. Despite Molly's cheerfulness and wisdom through storytelling, everyone in the house suffers from bad dreams caused by an evil spirit and the tree's magic secret, which make leaving near to impossible. The Irish dialogue was weak at points, but I enjoyed the book's tension and especially Auxier's afterword explaining his inspirations for the story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erin Bow

    Wow. This one is a perfectly recreated Victorian Gothic -- full of oddly pleasing terror -- but for, you know, kids. It's got everything: the amazing setting, the slow-build reveals, the minor characters named things like Hester Kettle and Dr. Crouch .... Plus it's got beautiful prose with phrases I'd like to steal. At least here in Canada, the Night Gardener comes covered in stickers -- there are four on mine -- and for good reason. It has the potential to be a new classic of Middle Grade creep Wow. This one is a perfectly recreated Victorian Gothic -- full of oddly pleasing terror -- but for, you know, kids. It's got everything: the amazing setting, the slow-build reveals, the minor characters named things like Hester Kettle and Dr. Crouch .... Plus it's got beautiful prose with phrases I'd like to steal. At least here in Canada, the Night Gardener comes covered in stickers -- there are four on mine -- and for good reason. It has the potential to be a new classic of Middle Grade creep.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Deliciously creepy! Reminds me of the books that I used to read in 4th-5th grade with one eye closed (to keep from being too scared). In the author's note he cites Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Secret Garden as influences, and, well, that pretty much sums it up!

  19. 4 out of 5

    BookishStitcher

    I've been on a middle grade horror kick because apparently it's close enough to Halloween now that I want to start thinking of a chill in the wind, spooky old trees, and creepy decrepit houses. This book combines an interesting aspect of historical fiction two children have managed to escape the Irish potato famine of 1845. They end up in England working as servants for a British family in a creepy old house. At night things happen in the house that slowly steal the vitality of anyone within its I've been on a middle grade horror kick because apparently it's close enough to Halloween now that I want to start thinking of a chill in the wind, spooky old trees, and creepy decrepit houses. This book combines an interesting aspect of historical fiction two children have managed to escape the Irish potato famine of 1845. They end up in England working as servants for a British family in a creepy old house. At night things happen in the house that slowly steal the vitality of anyone within its walls. This was a great middle grade horror that I quite enjoyed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is fantastic! It's a charming, and spooky, tale of two orphaned Irish children in the late 1800's who stumble into work for a once wealthy family that is in a mysterious downward spiral. Their health, their relationships and their money all seem to be slipping away from them. And the cause could be in the house itself. It's a mystery that unfolds as the two orphans first witness it, and then get caught up in it. The story explores themes of greed, honesty, loyalty and family. It's incre This book is fantastic! It's a charming, and spooky, tale of two orphaned Irish children in the late 1800's who stumble into work for a once wealthy family that is in a mysterious downward spiral. Their health, their relationships and their money all seem to be slipping away from them. And the cause could be in the house itself. It's a mystery that unfolds as the two orphans first witness it, and then get caught up in it. The story explores themes of greed, honesty, loyalty and family. It's incredibly well written. The story moves along rapidly and the author expertly weaves his characters into the setting and the setting into the plot. To me there was no wasted space, and no wasted opportunities. Auxier knew exactly what tale he was telling and it shows. Even though this is "young adult fantasy" I would recommend this to any adult with a love for supernatural stories (and if you are a Gaiman fan, as I am, you should just go read it right now). I might hesitate to give this to anyone under the age of about thirteen, and even then they'd have to have a penchant for the darker side of things. It's get fairly creepy near the end, and I won't lie, people die.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gianna Amundsen

    I rated his book a 4 out of 5 because I thought it was a very well written book, very interesting and suspenseful, and will keep you wanting more. It is a book I enjoyed reading over the summer. If you like mystery/fantasy books I recommend The Night Gardener. It is a book you won’t regret reading and it won’t bore you if you are not a big fan of reading. It gives you a great picture of what is going on and the characters are all great and play a great role throughout the story. The author tells I rated his book a 4 out of 5 because I thought it was a very well written book, very interesting and suspenseful, and will keep you wanting more. It is a book I enjoyed reading over the summer. If you like mystery/fantasy books I recommend The Night Gardener. It is a book you won’t regret reading and it won’t bore you if you are not a big fan of reading. It gives you a great picture of what is going on and the characters are all great and play a great role throughout the story. The author tells a great story and the last few chapters were one of my favorite parts. I found the first few chapters to be a little boring which is why I rated it a 4 out of 5. All together it is a great book that I highly recommend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Astrid Lim

    I love this book! Jonathan Auxier, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated chidren's book writer. How come we never heard of him? If it's not because his other book, Peter Nimble, that luckily has been translated to Indonesian, I'd probably wouldn't know anything about him. Anyway, this book is a perfect combination of adventures, mystery, family relationships, with a touch of horror and darkness inside. LOVE it. I do home Auxier will keep on writing many many wonderful stories like this. He I love this book! Jonathan Auxier, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated chidren's book writer. How come we never heard of him? If it's not because his other book, Peter Nimble, that luckily has been translated to Indonesian, I'd probably wouldn't know anything about him. Anyway, this book is a perfect combination of adventures, mystery, family relationships, with a touch of horror and darkness inside. LOVE it. I do home Auxier will keep on writing many many wonderful stories like this. He's a natural born storyteller!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    "A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide." Siblings Molly and Kip have left behind the orphanage to work as servants at the Windsor Estate, a crumbling English manor deep in what the locals call the sourwoods. After many days of travel, the children understand upon their arrival why the locals have a deep superstition of the place because they're immediately filled with a sense of unease themselves. Molly and Kip find a family e "A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide." Siblings Molly and Kip have left behind the orphanage to work as servants at the Windsor Estate, a crumbling English manor deep in what the locals call the sourwoods. After many days of travel, the children understand upon their arrival why the locals have a deep superstition of the place because they're immediately filled with a sense of unease themselves. Molly and Kip find a family essentially trapped in their own home by their desires.  The Windsors hold the key to a room they believe to fulfull their wishes and it isn't long before the room offers an enticing gift to Molly. Fueling the room is a tree that grows beside the manor house and each night, a tall dark figure in a top hat visits to tend to the tree.  The mysterious figure is known as the Night Gardener and together Molly and Kip must learn who or what it is before it destroys the Windsor family. The Night Gardener is a deliciously creepy middle grade novel that reminds me of a Washington Irving story: charming and unusual while offering a thrill of unease.  The charm, for me, stems from the novel's moral about greed and the effects the lies we tell ourselves has on our well-being.  I loved the Night Gardener character and the suspense surrounding the visits. If you love a story with a good moral, a healthy dose of creepiness, and middle grade / YA fiction, The Night Gardener is near the top of my recommendation list! For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  24. 5 out of 5

    Meisha

    3.5 I have mixed feelings with this book. It wasn’t by any means “mind blowing.” And there was also a pacing issue. I felt the we could have gone without about 50 pages or so. However I also realize that I’m not the intended audience and I don’t think this is a “bad book.” I think most of it was a personal thing. With that being said, there was a lot about this book that I really enjoyed too. I have some health conditions myself and because of that I really connected with the young boy in this st 3.5 I have mixed feelings with this book. It wasn’t by any means “mind blowing.” And there was also a pacing issue. I felt the we could have gone without about 50 pages or so. However I also realize that I’m not the intended audience and I don’t think this is a “bad book.” I think most of it was a personal thing. With that being said, there was a lot about this book that I really enjoyed too. I have some health conditions myself and because of that I really connected with the young boy in this story. I loved seeing how health problems can cause limitations and how frustrating that can be. I really enjoyed seeing that represented. Having a younger brother myself, I ADORED the sibling/familial dynamic depicted in the story as well... I also appreciated the way this book depicted grief and the lengths a person will go to in order to get a sense of relief (whether it’s in a positive or negative way.) As a side note, I found myself thinking how much this reminded me of a younger version of The Trees Crept In. It has some similarities and because I really liked that book, I think it helped my enjoyment of this book as well. Over all, I think this is a book for everyone and I think that middle grade kids will really love this book. If you like middle grade or it sounds like something you’d like, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a try!:) I really liked this book, i just didn’t quite jive with it in the way I thought I would. So I decided on the rating of 3.5! :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mila

    3,75 stars I enjoyed this creepy and even borderline scary book, I especially liked the historical fiction aspect of it and the audiobook narrator helped with that. I liked Molly a lot, but I couldn't make myself love Kip and so his chapters weren't always my favourite; I also think the story dragged in some places. But it's still an excellent middle-grade novel and now I want to check more of Jonathan Auxier's works.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    "I think I figured it out." She sniffed, looking up at the stars. "Hester asked me what the difference between a story and a lie was. At the time, I told her that a story helps folks. 'Helps 'em do what?' she asked. Well, I think I know the answer. A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide." In and of itself, the book's Contents page is not exceptional. Good, definitely, but not necessarily reason enough to love a book. Yet I th "I think I figured it out." She sniffed, looking up at the stars. "Hester asked me what the difference between a story and a lie was. At the time, I told her that a story helps folks. 'Helps 'em do what?' she asked. Well, I think I know the answer. A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide." In and of itself, the book's Contents page is not exceptional. Good, definitely, but not necessarily reason enough to love a book. Yet I think I can identify my first look at it as the moment I fell in love with this book. I was quite taken with Auxier's first book, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, so I was excited to read this one for that reason alone. Additionally, friends have loved it, peers have recommended it, and best-of-the-year lists have included it. Dark, creepy, atmospheric books almost always draw me in, and this is one. So I started with all of that in the book's favor before I even picked it up. But I hate to get my expectations high only to have them disappointed, so I tried not to let myself feel too much anticipation. My reading started with dwelling on the gorgeous cover, followed by the amazing art design on the end, title, publication, and introductory pages. Superficial, I know, but amazingly creepy and atmospheric, and they set a delicious mood. The Milton quote didn't do much for me without context, but I was exceedingly intrigued by the Aesop: We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified. Then I turned the page and saw the contents--Arrivals, Pursuits, Departures--and it just seemed to so perfectly encapsulate the journey of a great story I knew at that moment the book had me hooked. It did not disappoint. Not only is it a wonderfully dark and scary, gripping and suspenseful tale, it also viscerally considers the power of our wishes, the lies and stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we want to be. Neil Gaiman recently had a conversation about the timeless appeal and importance of stories that are dark, including: I think if you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up. I think it is really important to show dark things to kids — and, in the showing, to also show that dark things can be beaten, that you have power. Tell them you can fight back, tell them you can win. Because you can — but you have to know that. And for me, the thing that is so big and so important about the darkness is [that] it’s like in an inoculation… You are giving somebody darkness in a form that is not overwhelming — it’s understandable, they can envelop it, they can take it into themselves, they can cope with it. And, it’s okay, it’s safe to tell you that story — as long as you tell them that you can be smart, and you can be brave, and you can be tricky, and you can be plucky, and you can keep going.This is one such story: chilling, thrilling, compelling, and a bit horrifying; eloquent, insightful, and astute; and an inoculation against the darkness.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Destinee Sutton

    I really loved the first 90% of this book, and then felt a little let down by the ending. It's not that the ending was bad, but I had built up certain expectations during my reading that weren't met. I don't think it's quite a spoiler to say that I wanted to know so much more about the Night Gardener himself. As I've said in many a review, a shallowly developed villain character always gets my goat. If an author takes the time to flesh out the villain, to give him a compelling back story, it tak I really loved the first 90% of this book, and then felt a little let down by the ending. It's not that the ending was bad, but I had built up certain expectations during my reading that weren't met. I don't think it's quite a spoiler to say that I wanted to know so much more about the Night Gardener himself. As I've said in many a review, a shallowly developed villain character always gets my goat. If an author takes the time to flesh out the villain, to give him a compelling back story, it takes a book to the next level (Voldemort, am I right?). Still, it's a great scary read for kids. The mood reminded me of the fabulous Splendors and Glooms, but is more likely to gain a wider readership because it's not as dense or stylized. I'd love to share this with my young readers club someday because Molly, Kip, Penny, and Alistair are all such interesting kids. It would be great to hear what the kids think about how they change and what motivates them. Also, the quote about the difference between stories and lies (stories reveal the truth and lies hide the truth) has a lot to unpack. Also, in closing, I must say that this is basically Faust for kids. (Only Faust is a tree.)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    18 MAR 2016 - stayed up well past my bedtime reading this one. Spent my lunch hour reading and kept reading through the afternoon. (Good thing the boss was out of the office!). This book is compulsively readable with just enough creepy atmosphere to cause one to turn around to ensure The Night Gardener is not behind you. Great Read!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Benji Martin

    This book is phenomenal. It's deep enough for adults and creepy enough for kids. I honestly, didn't find anything wrong with it. The Newbery Committee members will all be reading it more than once, I hope.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Somehow this book felt cozy while still being super creepy. It's great storytelling, with beautiful art at each chapter's start and a nice cover too. It doesn't shy away from the pain and lies that even kids experience in life.

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