Victorian ghost story fans of all ages take heart: This novel is for you.
I spent a magical dark and foreboding evening immersed in The Night Gardener, an eerie and most definitely muchier book by Jonathan Auxier. Full of lush poetic imagery describing creepy landscapes that mirror the characters’ descent into the corrupt bowels of depravity, this gothic fairy tale unfolds the story of two Irish orphans in desperate need of work and a place to call home, who stumble upon employment at an accursed manor house in the English countryside. The noble family who owns the manor is withering, the life slowly sucked out of them by a nefarious tree that consumes the estate and its inhabitants, cared for by a grim spirit known only as the Night Gardener.
As the older orphan sister, Molly, uses her talent as a teller of stories (and twister of truths) to weave a new fable, so the Night Gardener and his spooky tree entwine an evil spell over all who reside there. Only Molly and her younger brother, Kip, are honest enough to admit the horrors they have brought upon themselves. But can any of them escape the clutches of the powerful Night Gardener?
Although written for grades 4-6, this creepy read is to be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good ghost story written in beautiful language that teaches a dark morality tale as well. Highly recommended.
Muchier scale: 8 out of 10