The Night Gardener is Jonathan Auxier‘s second book and like his first title, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, it stands out for it’s originality, strong voice and engrossing world building.
Summary: It has been arranged by their missing parents that brother and sister Molly and Kip will be working for the Windsor family on the other side of the sour woods. as they embark on their journey they hear tales of the area being haunted and that there is a mysterious evil energy that lives at and around the Windsor house.
“So, tell me this: what kind of fever turns a house inside out and makes flesh-and-blood people vanish into thin air?”
The kids quickly learn that there is deep sadness at the Windsor household. Master Windsor seems to be in a constant state of worry, Mistress Windsor withers away physically before their eyes and the Windsor kids suffer from gluttony and selfishness. Add to this the massive tree which begins to engulf the home and the money collectors who come to the house and Molly and Kip have much to fear.
Written with a whisper of old English the text reads like a Grimm Fairy Tale that was lost and has been rediscovered. The Night Gardener himself is just scary enough to make the read unforgettable but so scary that children will fear any tree that they encounter.
Auxier is proving that he has a unique and strong storytelling style for readers who appreciate a bit of lore and a respectful nod to classic style. This book feels as though it comes from our history while it reels at a modern pace for contemporary readers.
This would make a great read-aloud and is the perfect choice for grade school and middle school readers who enjoy some fear around the autumn months. I highly recommend The Night Gardener. It is one of my favorite reads of the year.
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pub Date: May 2014
Page Count: 384 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
*Thank you Amulet Books for sending me a review copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.