Book Review: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The Night Gardener is the second middle grade novel by Jonathan Auxier. This is a Victorian style ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. It is also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.  The story is about an Irish sister and brother that travel to work as servants at an 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.

The Night Gardener is a Gothic story with the perfect amount of creepy atmosphere and secrets. Molly is doing her best to care for her little brother Kip, while using stories to keep them both from despair. The people the meet along the way, and the family they come to work for, are all facing their own challenges and carry their own secrets. There is a blend of folklore and a lesson about just how powerful storytelling can be, and how it can be used to help or hurt regardless of the initial intentions. I liked that while some mysteries were not fully explained, while others were perfectly revealed. While the ending was satisfying and complete, there was still a little something that left me wondering if we might see more of Molly and Kip in the future.

I would recommend The Night Gardener to middle grade readers that like a good creepy novel, mystery, folklore, or coming of age stories. The story is solid, although I did hit a couple patches that seemed a little slow moving, but I think that was my desire to get to the conclusion rather than the fault of the book.


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