Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The children in this story are braver than I was as a child.  I was afraid of the dark and strange sounds.  Molly is scared but refuses to show it.  After all, who else is there to take care of Kip?

Amulet Books sent me an ARC of this story for review (thank you).  The book is being published May 20th, so make a note on your TBR list and pick up a copy at your local bookstore then.

Molly and Kip are orphaned.  Molly pretends their parents are still alive and are just taking longer to reach the shore.  Kip knows better but goes along with the deception.  After all, who wants to be orphans?  They were immigrating from Ireland but when the boat goes down there were only two spaces left in the life boat.  Pretending, though, gets them in trouble with the Night Gardner...

They have been sent to be servants at a house in the woods.  No one will tell them how to get to the woods, much less how to get to the house.  Finally a story teller who looks more like a witch gives them the directions.  When they arrive, they almost want to leave again.  The house is run down, there's a tree almost inside the house, and the family is strange.

This is more of a horror novel than a sweetness and light read.  Molly tries to please the lady of the house, which is hard to do.  Kip is stable boy and the lady wants him to sleep out there, too.  As they work and talk about the family members and the house itself, they begin to notice a strange dark man that walks in the night.

This man takes something from the people in the house.  They have wishes and the tree provides it but for each thing they take, they lose part of themselves.  Even Molly gets in that trap when she gets letters from her parents.  They can't be from her parents, but they are her mother's handwriting.  How is that possible?

The grownups in this story aren't very formidable but the children are magnificent.  The story was scary and a bit mean, but I bet middle grade students will eat it up.

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