Auxier, Jonathan. The Night Gardener. Fiction. Amulet/Abrams, 2014. 384p. $16.95. 978-1-4197-1144-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 6-9.
Two plucky and resilient orphans confront the nocturnal horrors of an isolated house in this superbly constructed middle-grade Gothic mystery chiller. Fourteen-year-old Molly and 10-year old Kip have left famine-stricken Ireland and landed in hostile England. In desperation and despite the warnings of the local villagers, they end up working for a family who lives in a lonely mansion, which is built around a malevolent tree. The children quickly become aware of a sinister nighttime visitor and gradually
make the connection with the dramatically waning health of the family. The tale is told from the perspective of both children: Kip is a very Dickensian orphan (an angelic mix of David Copperfield and Tiny Tim), whereas Molly is a more interestingly flawed character; and their love for each other and their yearning for a home shines through. Auxier (Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes, 2011), inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Something
Wicked This Way Comes (Simon & Schuster, 1962), has created a wonderfully paced and flowing narrative that is both a horror story and a meditation on the murky difference between stories and lies, and on the psychic damage of greed. For readers who enjoy the dark fantastic mixed with heart, such as in The Graveyard Book (Gaiman, HarperCollins, 2008) and Splendors and Glooms (Schlitz, Candlewick, 2012). Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School
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