— feeling skull
The Night Gardener - Jonathan Auxier


At the far end of the lawn stood the Windsor mansion. The house had obviously been left vacant for some years, and in that time it seemed to have become one with the landscape. Ivy choked the walls and windows. The roof was sagging and covered in black moss.


But strangest of all was the tree.


The tree was enormous and looked very, very old. Most trees invite you to climb up into their canopy. This one did not. Most trees make you want to carve your initials into the trunk. This one did not. To stand in the shadow of this tree was to feel a chill run through your whole body.


Talk about setting the mood. Shivers anyone?


This story creeped me out. I mean, it's written for middle graders, so it wasn't that scary but, still. The Night Gardener is ghoulish and he has powers. He is in the house at night while everyone is sleeping and most of the family doesn't even notice. I mean how can that not be creepy? I was enthralled by the story and kept trying to figure out exactly what was going on.


Molly (14 years old) and Kip (11 years old) have just arrived at the Windsor mansion. Molly is there to start her job as housekeeper, but mostly because they need a place to stay. They didn't expect such a creepy house and such a strange family. But, at this point, they don't have much choice. Molly takes care of Kip and tells stories to make him feel better. She is an excellent storyteller.


Molly & Kip are from Ireland and they have a different way of talking. This book is set around the time of the potato famine in Ireland (around the 1840's). I didn't find their language distracting, but I have seen reviews that said it was an issue for some. They drop the g's (somethin' instead of something), their grammar is bad and they say dinna & canna which mean something like don't and can't.



Recommended to:

Anyone who likes creepy stories. Probably for grades 6 and up. But, if your 5th grader is a big fan of scary stories, this would be fine for them.