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Posted August 7, 2012
Although I was drawn by the image of a garden that comes alive at dusk--once I started reading, it was the characters that really drew me into the story. I really cared what happened to Daniel, Kat, Cary, Bree, Aunt Margo, and even, eccentric Colonel Pepperidge. I also enjoyed the humor and lighthearted approach in general.The cats were fun, too. I would highly recommend this book both to older children and their parents.
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Posted April 7, 2014
Molly Dean’s “The Twilight Garden” opens with the three most important elements of the story—Daniel who discovers Kat and the titular garden. While the garden serves as a backdrop and metaphor for the two main characters, Daniel and Kat, who literally and figuratively grow and mature as the story progresses. While I wasn’t certain reading a coming-of-age story would offer anything new, I was pleasantly surprised and drawn in by Dean’s characters and writing style that offered easy access to a timeless world.
Dean’s story centers on ten year old Daniel, who is spending the summer with his Aunt Margo at his Great Aunt Delilah’s house which also has the Twilight Garden. Delilah may or may not be off on a mission to find her “missing” daughter, but her house attracts all manner of interesting and unique characters, including Kat. A wonderful counter and sometimes foil for Daniel, the friendship between the two young characters carries the bulk of the story.
“The Twilight Garden” is a summer adventure that almost reads like a series of interlaced vignettes on the theme of growing up and growing old. Dean populates the story with a host of characters that start with the young and exuberant Kat, and run all the way up through the old and exuberant Colonel Pepperidge (a personal favorite). Readers may have two concerns about the story, but fortunately they are not major issues. First, the timeline for all the events that takes place is squeezed into just a few short weeks. For all the occurrences and adventures that Daniel, Kat and the rest of the characters have, this feels far too short. Second, the degree of maturity and emotional depth of Daniel (and to a lesser extent Kat) at times far exceeds his ten year old character, making a reader think of a much older teenager. Fortunately, these issues are not detrimental to the story or the plot at all.
Molly Dean’s “The Twilight Garden” is a fascinating look into the summer adventures of growing up and growing old. The flow of the story and the believability of the characters is never in question. Readers will enjoy navigating through the flowers and weeds of life as Dean portrays them, watching as friendships blossom and grow.
Posted March 3, 2014
The backdrop of this novel is a wonderful yet overgrown garden filled with goldfish pools, an abundance of cats, butterflies, and fireflies. This setting and the events that transpire allow the reader to be transported back to the age in childhood when explorations and the unknown can stir the imagination.
This sweet tale centers on ten year old Daniel whose parents are in the midst of a separation. Daniel has come to reside the summer with his flighty Aunt Margo who is housesitting for his Great Aunt Delilah (a woman Daniel has never met). Aunt Delilah is meanwhile in Ireland searching for her long lost granddaughter, Maggie. On the property he meets spunky eleven year old Kat. Daniel and Kat quickly form a friendship and often muse on the complexities of parents, the addled neighbor Colonel Pepperridge, and the moodiness of Daniel's precocious cousin Bree. Daniel and Kat wile away their days traversing the house and property, delving into the mystery of Maggie's disappearance and whether or not she is a ghost, and eventually lending a hand to help spruce up the property and that of the Colonel.
Molly Dean has created a cast of colorful and likeable characters in “The Twilight Garden”. The book is a well written read suitable for middle graders and up.
Posted September 20, 2013
The Twilight Garden by Molly Dean is, in some ways, a simple, unassuming book. Daniel, a ten-year-old boy, is staying with an aunt and cousin in another aunt’s house for the summer after his parents separate. He meets Kat, a local girl a year older than he is. They become friends. Through her he meets other local people, many of them a bit odd to his way of thinking, but most of them nice and none of them unfriendly.
They spend time in his aunt’s run-down twilight garden and, by the end of the book, with the help of his family and the local people, they renovate it. They help an elderly local man. Daniel becomes friends with his cousin, who, up to that point, he didn’t like.
Not much of a plot? True. Just a story about a boy going through a difficult time and finding ways to deal with his problems? Yes. Unassuming? Yes.
Simple? Not so much. The characters are complex and multilayered. People who at first might not seem likable show a deeper and more agreeable personality as they become known to Daniel and the reader. Daniel and Kat prove wise beyond their years.
The hint of mysteries; what happened to the granddaughter of the woman who owns the house and is the house haunted? are as subtle as the rest of the book.
If you’re looking for action or a supernatural element, this is not the book for you. If you want a gentle, lovingly written novel about a boy’s summer, you would have trouble finding a better book.