The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener

4.6 16
by Jonathan Auxier

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This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish


This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

Praise for The Night Gardener
"Lots of creepiness, memorable characters, a worthy message, Auxier’s atmospheric drawings and touches of humor amid the horror make this cautionary tale one readers will not soon forget."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale."
School Library Journal, starred review

"Auxier achieves an ideal mix of adventure and horror, offering all of it in elegant, atmospheric language that forces the reader to slow down a bit and revel in both the high-quality plot and the storytelling itself."
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"All proper scary stories require a spooky, menacing atmosphere, and Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes) delivers the goods with his precise descriptions of the gothic setting and teasing hints of mystery and suspense."
The Horn Book Magazine

Summer 2014 Kids' Indie Next List


Editorial Reviews

Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Diane Colson
Orphans Molly and Kip have traveled far from famine-ridden Ireland to Windsor Estate in the English countryside, the only place to offer them employment. Molly is determined to find a safe place for Kip, who is ill and lame, so she is not willing to let scary stories about cursed woods and haunted manors deter her. When they finally reach the Windsor Estate, however, it is impossible to ignore the strange atmosphere. A dark, monstrous tree grows right up into the house, its branches bursting through the walls. The Windsors themselves appear peculiarly afflicted, as if the life is slowly draining from their bodies. And most disturbing of all is the man who comes at night, thudding through the halls and penetrating the family’s dreams through horrifying nightmares. As is her way, Molly spins imaginative tales to protect Kip from distress, giving him a “magic button” for protection. Soon enough, however, even Molly cannot spin a story that dispels the danger. This is an excellent ghost story for middle grade readers. It combines the chilling imagery of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (Bloomsbury, 2002/Voya October 2002) with the isolated Victorian setting of Joan Aiken’s 1962 Wolves Of Willoughby Chase (Yearling, 1987, reprint). In addition to the haunting atmosphere, there is a loving sweetness between Molly and Kip that eventually expands to include the whole, desperate Windsor family. Auxier’s novel is more than a simple ghost story, as the characters can only defeat the evil through heart-wrenching personal sacrifices. This novel is recommended for middle school and public libraries. Reviewer: Diane Colson; Ages 11 to 15.
School Library Journal
★ 04/01/2014
Gr 4–6—Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale. Irish immigrants to England, Molly and Kip make their way to the Windsor house in search of employment. The great house stands in the shadow of a menacing tree, which locals speak of only in fearful whispers. Despite her young age and the warnings of a local storyteller, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work, but soon realizes that all is not right in the house. Constance, Bertrand, Penny, and Alistair Windsor each struggle with personal demons, and strange footprints appear at night. A malevolent spirit, the Night Gardener, haunts the estate, dooming its inhabitants with foul dreams while the tree grants wishes to entrap the recipients. Molly and Kip must face their own dark secrets to release the Gardener's hold and end his evil enchantments. Auxier gives readers a spooky story with depth and dimension. Molly's whimsical tales illustrate life's essential lessons even as they entertain. As the characters face the unhealthy pull of the tree's allurements, they grow and change, revealing unexpected personality traits. Storytelling as a force to cope with life's challenges is subtly expressed and adds complexity to the fast-paced plot. Readers of Mary Downing Hahn or Peg Kehret's ghost novels will connect with the supernatural elements and the independent child protagonists of Auxier's tale of things that go bump in the night.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-02-12
Replete with engaging figurative language and literary allusions to works ranging from the Bible to Paradise Lost, Auxier's creepy Victorian ghost story is an allegory on greed and the power of stories. Fourteen-year-old Molly and her younger brother, Kip, orphans fleeing the Irish famine, seek work in England. The destitute siblings become servants at the Windsor estate, at the center of which is a decrepit house entwined with a huge and sinister tree. Although warned that this place contains something ominous that changes people, they are unprepared for the evil they encounter. The master, mistress and their two children grow pale and thin; their eyes and hair blacken. Entering the forbidden room at the top of the stairs, Molly finds a knothole in the tree—a knothole that produces whatever one wishes for (money, jewels, sweets). The price is a piece of the petitioner's soul. Muddy footprints and dead leaves in the house attest to an evil nocturnal visitor, the titular Night Gardener, who wipes the sweat of fear from their nightmare-ridden brows to water the tree. In a heart-stopping climax, Molly and Kip attempt to stop this specter and the ancient curse. Lots of creepiness, memorable characters, a worthy message, Arrasmith's atmospheric drawings and touches of humor amid the horror make this cautionary tale one readers will not soon forget. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Product Details

Amulet Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Jonathan Auxier teaches creative writing and children’s literature. He is the author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which the Wall Street Journal called “as delightful a magical story as readers ages 9–14 will hope to find.” He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and daughter. You can visit him online at

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The Night Gardener 4.6 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly great. I love the way he writes, and it really is a spine-chilling book. I finished it in a day or so, to find out it's funny, imaginable, and amazing. Hope you read it! -L.J.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. One of the very few books that I could not put down, and left me pondering the story after reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so awesome i finished it very quickly because it was so good you shoud read it
Anonymous 17 days ago
This is a really fantastic book but its scary
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this fir an assignment in december it is on of the best books i have read in a ling time but if you get scared a little to esdiky this book is nit fir you. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a real page turner. I like this book because this willI keep you guessing to the end.The stroy makes me feel excited to read the whole thing.I suggest you read it.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
It is sometime in the 1850s. Two red-headed, Irish children, fourteen year old Molly McConnachie and her ten year old lame brother Kip, from County Donegal, had left Ireland with their parents for a new life during the potato famine. However, something happened to wreck the ship, and Molly and Kip found themselves in an orphanage without their Da and Ma. Molly has been comforting Kip with her storytelling ability. They sneaked away and have come to Cedar Hollow, England, where Molly lands them jobs, she as a maid and Kip as a gardener, at the old Windsor estate in the “Sourwoods.” They meet the master of the house, Mr. Bertrand Windsor, his wife Constance, and their two children, Alistair and Penelope Eleanor or Penny. However, things are not right. The children hear stories about an ancient curse and a mysterious spectre. The house looks as if it is haunted. There is an ugly tree growing right up beside it and actually right into it. The woods surrounding the place have no birds. The Windsors all appear to be sickly. Mr. Windsor seems to have financial problems. Strange men come around asking for money. And something very sinister and eerie is going on at night. Will Molly and Kip be all right? Or will something bad happen to them? And will they ever find their parents? The Night Gardener is said to be the “much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes,” which I have not read but is about a blind ten year old orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery and one fateful afternoon steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher that contains three pairs of magical eyes. It apparently bears no direct relationship to The Night Gardener. As to language, one common euphemism (drat) occurs and the term “bloody hell” is found once. Some references to drinking wine and ale and smoking tobacco are found. And there are two or three rather violent deaths. Thus, it might not be appropriate for especially sensitive readers, but there is nothing that most parents would find majorly objectionable. The book is said to be “a Victorian ghost story” with shades of Ray Bradbury, Washington Irving, Frances Hodgson Burnett, J. M. Barrie, and even Henry James. Yet, it is more. It is also a cautionary moral fable about human greed, the dangers of lying, and the power of storytelling. Young people who enjoy spooky stories with a gothic-like setting, a creepy plot, a menacing atmosphere, and memorable characters will like this book.
Mystryrdr More than 1 year ago
What a great "story"...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend told me all about this book and i thought it sounded great. So we agreed that i could use her copy to read it. It sounds and looks really creepy. I love the way this author came up with this very amazing,creative story. Cant wait to read it!!!!!
Anonymous 9 months ago
BooksAplenty More than 1 year ago
Gripping, Spooky, and Terrific Molly and Kip are barely surviving when they are offered a job as servants at the supremely creepy, derelict Windsor estate. The people living there are pale, with sunken dark eyes. And the house is visited each evening by a mysterious "night man" who tends a strange tree. Soon Molly and Kip find themselves enmeshed in an ancient curse that threatens the lives of everyone at the Windsor estate. This book is terrific! The creepiness builds steadily until the unbelievably dark seems totally plausible. That's one reason why I typically avoid scary stories - they seem so fake that it's hard for me to buy in to them. In this case, however, Auxier has crafted a tale that is wholly believable. He does it by starting with mundane and carefully adding the creepy, ghost elements. Be warned, though, this book is not for the faint of heart. The idea of a creepy man walking around your house at night, standing over your bed, is sure to give some readers nightmares. Not to mention the collection of violent deaths and the super-creepy-soul-stealing tree. Wonderfully written, beautifully paced, and populated by a cast of richly interesting characters, The Night Gardener kept me totally glued to the page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the preview and it creeped me out so i don't know if i should read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok i think Penny is really cute and Molly is great at story telling
book4children More than 1 year ago
If your kids like creepy legends and spooky tales, this book is for them. The Night Gardener immediately sucks you in and wraps you in its vines, refusing to let go. It's a haunting tale of two young children - a brother with a crippled leg and a sister with a penchant for telling stories...or lies— and the mysterious tree their master's home is built around. Things aren't right at the Windsor home, and Molly sets out to find out why. What she and Kip discover about their new home and the man that wanders the grounds at night is both chilling and seductive. Author's name has delivered yet another classic to the middle grade market. Kids that like things that go bump in the night will love this book. The characters prove themselves worthy heroes as they take on a legend that just might destroy them all. Content: Scary scenes, and violence, but it's not gory or overly detailed. Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.