Monday, March 9, 2015
The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
384 pages; ages 10 & up
Amulet Books (Abrams), 2014
I found a novel hiding at the bottom of my book basket! Imagine that! And it's a perfect time to read it, as the book begins.....
"The calendar said early march, but the smell in the air sail late October. A crisp sun shone over Cedar Hallow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees."
OK ... maybe in some places the sun is melting the final bits of ice... but not here in the northeast where we're still buried beneath feet of sedimentary snow layers.
The book opens with Molly and her brother Kip, abandoned Irish siblings on their way to the Windsor estate where a job awaits. But when they ask for directions, people spit in the dirt and warn them to avoid the "sour woods".
They should turn around.
But they don't, and they eventually make it to the estate which once was gorgeous but now has an unkempt house invaded by a huge tree, and gardens that need a lot of care. And a cranky mistress who warns Molly that "This house is no place for you."
Why is the house always filled with leaves? Who is the dark stranger who walks the halls at night? Why is the mistress getting thinner and sicker, despite Molly's good cooking? And what's with the tree?
There's magic, but dark and uncomfortable - in the manner of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Molly - and the others in the household, are seduced by the magic. But magic requires payment, and this magic sucks the life from your soul.
This is the sort of book you want to read with the lights on, and a hot cup of cocoa. Unless you delight in spooky books, in which case turn out the lights and read by the flickering light of candles. Just, whatever you do, don't open the locked closet door....
Shannon Messenger's blog. But not today.... MMGM resumes next week. Review copy provided by publisher.