A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Night Gardener is a dark, scary horror story that delivers satisfying chills along with thoughtful messages on courage, empathy, and the power of storytelling. The supernatural creature stalking a desperate family might be too spooky for sensitive readers. Several characters meet a gruesome end, and others recount how they became orphaned. The paranormal night gardener causes an entire family to grow weak and ill, and the mother is in especially perilous condition.
What's the story?
Separated from their parents on the journey from Ireland, Molly and Kip ignore their misgivings and go to work for the unhappy, ailing Windsors. The family, crushed by debt, is isolated in an eerie home dominated by a menacing black tree that's grown right through the walls. Molly and Kip soon discover the terrifying night man, who torments their sleep with nightmares and seems to be stealing their very souls. Molly's every instinct tells her she and Kip should run for their lives, but she's begun to fall under the spell of the mysterious tree. It seems to be giving her exactly what she wants…but she and her brother must decide what they really need to survive.
Is it any good?
Jonathan Auxier's THE NIGHT GARDENER is a spell-binding tale that deserves a spot on the shelf between Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of: The supernatural night man is relentlessly evil, cultivating a complex trap to ensnare Molly, Kip, and the Windsors. Though there's a fair amount of violence, it's the sustained suspense that makes this such a gripping read.
Molly and Kip, who take turns on center stage, are likable, sympathetic heroes. As they discover the truth behind the Windsor family's circumstances, young readers might reflect on how little they really know about what goes on in another family's home. Don't be surprised if the fascinating night gardener and Molly's storytelling inspire readers to create their own spin-off tales and artwork. As Auxier makes clear, sometimes the best way to wrestle with something scary is by telling stories.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Molly understands about stories and lies: A story helps people face an often frightening world, and a lie helps you hide. How have stories helped you?
How does the Victorian setting contribute to the story?
Why do you enjoy scary stories? What makes The Night Gardener more or less chilling than other scary stories you've read or heard?
- Author: Jonathan Auxier
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: May 20, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.