Monday, February 23, 2015

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Night Gardener

I chose to read this book because it's one of the nominees for the Silver Birch Award in the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading. But it was great to read something I might not normally pick up. [So far, I've only featured one other nominee, The Hidden Agenda of Ingrid Sugden.]

Here’s the Amazon description:

When orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip arrive to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house, they discover that the house and its inhabitants are not what they seem. Soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and the secrets of the cursed house will change their lives forever.

This much-anticipated follow up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian mystery in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, Puffin: New York, 2014

My Take:

This was a deliciously spooky story. It seemed a bit slow to get started, but the mysterious elements started to build, leading me to feel curious and also to dread what might be going to happen. I especially liked the character of Kip, with his crutch called Courage and his concern for doing what’s right.

From a writer’s perspective, I'd study how the author set the mood and tone for the story. It's interesting how real life historical events created the backdrop for this work of fiction, and the author explains more about this in the author's note.

Opening Line:

“The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October.”


“The mud was black and greedy, holding on to whatever touched it—including their back wheel, which had lost three spokes only the day before.”

“Do they count as stories when the other person thinks they’re true?”

“A lie hurts people,” she finally answered. “A story helps ‘em.”

Other Info:

Jonathan Auxier grew up in Canada but now lives in Pittsburgh.

He listens to music to remind himself of the feeling he wants to create for a book. Here’s his post about his soundtrack for The Night Gardener

To learn more about how the author conquered his own fears through writing his books, check out Matthew Winner’s conversation with Jonathan Auxier on the Let’s Get Busy podcast

The Night Gardener is one of the nominees for the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award

For more about Jonathan Auxier, visit his website.

Looking for more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books? Visit Shannon Messenger’s blog for a list of bloggers reviewing great books today! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. I've wanted to start this series. And the second book sounds good too.

  2. I've been hearing good things about this one. I always enjoy something with a historical backdrop. Thanks for the rec!

  3. The cover on this book is a real grabber and I love the first quote. Great stuff. Thanks.

  4. I heard a lot of buzz about this book last year but still haven't gotten around to reading it. Love the quotes, especially the one about mud being black and greedy.


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