When siblings Molly and Kip arrive in the sourwoods at the home of the Windsors, they’re more than a little intimidated. The grounds are in shambles, the old English manor is crumbling, and looming over it all is a dark, malevolent tree.
A terrifying encounter with what the Windsor children call the “night man” is enough to convince Molly and Kip that something evil lurks in the sourwoods. Does this “night man” have any connection to whatever’s behind the locked green door at the top of the stairs? How is it connected to the twisted tree, and can it be stopped before it’s too late?
You couldn’t drag me to a horror movie, but put me on the sofa with a hot toddy and a scary book and I’m happy as a clam.
I started The Night Gardener with mixed expectations. The cover art is creepy and gorgeous, but sometimes “scary” YA novels fall flat for me — usually because the author focuses on gore or simply scaring the snot out of you.
Fortunately, Jonathan Auxier’s novel does not fall into this category. It reminds me of Lindsey Barraclough’s Long Lankin (an absolutely terrifying and fantastic read), but the main themes — the dangers of greed and the power of storytelling — take it to the next level. It’s the kind of story I can imagine parents telling their children to show them the importance of living morally.
Equal parts Willy Wonka and campfire tale, The Night Gardener is a great book for middle school readers and up. Just maybe don’t read it in the dark.
(I read this book as a part of the 2015 Monthly Motif Challenge. May’s challenge was to visit the library and choose a book from the ones on display right up front.)