The Night Gardener

By Jonathan Auxier,

Book cover of The Night Gardener

Book description

Irish orphans Molly, 14, and Kip, 10, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and the secrets of the cursed house. By the author of Peter Nimble and…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Night Gardener as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I read this book a couple of years ago and the spooky setting still stays with me. It’s a creepy Victorian-style house with a sinister wishing tree that lurks inside it. Two innocent orphans confront the ghostly Night Gardener and try to resist the temptation of having any wish granted. I found this mystery pulls you in more and more deeply, just like the tree clutching at your soul. Auxier, who’s known for his “strange stories for strange kids” is masterful with spooky suspense.

The setting and mood of a book often draw me into the story more than anything, as is the case with The Night Gardener. From the dark wood and the run-down manor, to a terrible curse, this Gothic tale is dripping with atmosphere. This is a book about siblings, storytelling and lies, and what the things you desire are truly worth. Perfectly creepy!

The Night Gardiner is a truly creepy tale of courage and strength. Set in the Victorian era, Kip and Molly become orphaned as they seek refuge from their famine struck home in Ireland. Molly finds work at the Windsor Estate which is haunted by a tragic spirit and creepy tree that controls the estate’s inhabitants. 

Molly and Kip inspire as they uncover the mystery of the tree and persevere. The story celebrates the strength of the two orphaned children, the sacrifices they have made and their plight to build a new life in a new country. Their bond overcomes the…

This spooky novel revolves around an old manor with a tree rooted right inside its walls. The book wastes no time getting into the heart of the mystery, which mixes folklore and the fantastical. The tree, it turns out, is a dark variation of Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree. It grants the wisher what they want…at a cost. This clever, creepy tale shows us that what we want is not always what we need.

Creepy Victorian setting? Check. Potentially haunted mansion? Check. Dynamic, fully-realized brother and sister duo to root for? Check. Ever-building tension marked by a steady stream of haunting reveals? Check. It has all these things going for it, but most of all, Auxier’s novel offers up a shadowy villain who is more than he seems and whose motives elicit some measure of sympathy. The Night Gardener is a gothic horror story, relying more on keeping you constantly unsettled rather than jolting you out of your seat, but I happen to love that perpetual sinking feeling in my stomach as I wonder…

From John's list on to spook middle-grade readers.

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