This middle grade book is the kind of thrillingly creepy tale that will bring a shiver to your spine even as the last heat of the summer sun continues to burn your skin.
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. Goodreads.
The Night Gardener the story of Molly and her brother Kip. Molly and Kip have been sent to the countryside of England to find work during the Irish potato famine. They are alone, their parents mysteriously behind them, and they are headed for work at an English manor. Every step they take closer to the manor comes with warnings from the people along the way: they are headed to their death.
Molly and Kip are quite a pair. Molly is blessed with the knack for storytelling while Kip has a green thumb. But it will take more than stories and planting to save them from the deadly traps set in the woods around the manor. Meanwhile, the Windsor family is hiding a secret so wretched that it appears to be eating them alive.
In the grand scheme of scary, this book is less jump-out-and-shock-you and more like that nightmare we all have where no matter how fast we are running the murderer is gaining on you. The atmosphere of this story is masterful and the fear becomes palatable until I found myself flipping the pages faster and faster to the end.
Beyond the spooky atmosphere, there was much to be admired in both Molly and Kip. Molly has taken the role of protector and mother to her younger brother. She maintains a positive mindset and attitude in the face of tremendous adversity. Kip has a physical disability. This is presented as a fact, not a defining characteristic. He works, he plays, he carries the crutch his father made and named Courage, he is a typical eleven year old boy. His disability is reminiscent of the character of Freddy from Shazam and I liked the portrayal.
Middle grade readers will need to pack their patience for this book. Since the story relies heavily on building a genuinely creepy atmosphere, it doesn’t move quickly. Instead, your sense of fear and dread sneak up on you. Some middle grade readers may need encouragement to persevere all the way to the end but reassure them – it is worth it!
The Night Gardener was an excellent study in how the slow drip of fear can overcome you. Like Small Spaces, The Night Gardener is a perfect creepy middle grade book.
Tell me, please!
Do you enjoy middle grade reads?