Review: The Night Gardener (2014)

night gardenerThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is a perfectly creepy story. In the author’s note at the end of the book Auxier credits inspiration from Ray Bradbury and Washington Irving, and then goes on to say that The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett also weaves it’s way into this work. Well, who can resist the thought of a spooky Secret Garden?

The story follows Molly and Kip, two young Irish orphans looking to find work as servants, as they travel to the mysterious Windsor Estate which is hidden away deep in “the sourwoods.”  Along the way they meet an old traveling storyteller named Hester who helps them find their way once Molly promises to share stories of the enigmatic estate with her. When they arrive at the Windsor house they soon realize that things are not as they appear. Entwined within the house is a gigantic, sinister tree. The inhabitants of the house appear pale and sickly, and it isn’t long before Molly begins to encounter the Night Gardener. Then there’s also the matter of the locked door at the top of the stairs…

School ends next week, but I can’t wait to book talk this one with the kids in the library next year! This is a thrilling read with an element of mystery that propels the story forward. It is the perfect amount of creepy for elementary school kids. I would recommend it for readers ages 8-13 who appreciate a bit of suspense and dark imagery. I loved the additional themes within the story of storytelling (what makes it different from lying?), and greed. -Erin

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