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The Night Gardener Paperback – May 5, 2015
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Auxier’s second novel is part morality play, part ghost story, and all enthralling. Molly and Kip are Irish orphans seeking employment in England after their parents die in a shipwreck. Brave, quick-thinking Molly is solicitous of her younger disabled brother, and she feels guilty because she has managed to hide the truth about their parents’ death from him, spinning yarns about their travels and promising they will all be together soon. Molly finds them work as servants in a distinctly creepy, isolated country manor where a huge tree growing into the house is casting a spell over the inhabitants, among other mysterious goings-on. Auxier, like Molly, is a born storyteller, and he weaves a tale that will keep readers glued to the page. The outcomes may be expected, but the journeys are riveting, while the predictability conjures the comfort and satisfaction of a classic fairy tale. Grades 6-9. --Debbie Carton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
The children are greeted by a strange and sickly family. With some quick thinking Molly secures a job caring for the house, a six-year-old girl, and her brutish brother. Molly and her brother soon discover things in the mansion are anything but normal. Molly begins to have nightmares and has to clean up after someone roving the mansion at night, leaving muddy footprints everywhere. There is a strange locked room Molly has been instructed to never open. Day by day, the family becomes more sickly and Molly intends to get to the bottom of it.
Upper middle graders who enjoy scary stories will be thrilled by this book.