*This Review is SPOILER FREE*
Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener is a Middle-Grade novel which follows main protagonists and siblings, Kip and Molly, who have arrived in England from Ireland. After a hard journey and with Kip sick with fever, Molly is finally able to find employment with the Windsor family, and the children take up residence in the family manor. As they arrive on the property they are greeted by the sight of a degrading house which has a massive strange looking tree growing into its foundation. Molly and Kip are quickly acquainted with all of the Windsor family that is currently in the house. As time goes by Molly and Kip begin to notice strange happenings in and around the manor as well as oddities with the Windsor family themselves. This novel is a very good blend of horror, suspense, fantasy and mystery, and each genre/sub-genre has a firm hold in the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was much more creepy than I had anticipated. I have a habit of not reading the synopsis of a book before starting it, as my own over-active imagination does an annoyingly amazing job of sometimes spoiling me. I was only expecting a good mystery story and it was a very pleasant surprise to have a lot of horror and an overall mood of creepiness woven into the story. The character development of the two main protagonists was fairly well done. Both Molly and Kip make noticeable changes throughout the story and their characters seemed to be thought out and constructed very well. On the other hand, the story-lines of some of the supporting characters, did not feel as fleshed out. That was not too much of a put off while reading and I only took real notice of it at two sections near to the conclusion of the story because the leap of logic seemed to need a bit more buildup to come off seamlessly.
I don’t have any major cons and/or complaints about the story. The Night Gardner is a story that I feel is very well-done. It would be an amazing, interesting read for someone within the target age range of middle grade fiction. The story was well written, the progression of events were believable and the historical-fiction aspect make it a very digestible read for an adult reader. The novel deserves all seven-and-a-half out of ten unicorn horns that I am awarding it.