The Night Gardener
When Molly and Kip, Irish siblings, finally arrive to England after a harrowing journey, they think their prayers have been answered. The children are in search of employment at the Windsor house. After days of hard travel, the children despair that they’ll never reach the house, when they encounter a storyteller in the forest who points them in the right direction—for a price. The price? A story.
Molly hastily promises the story for directions and the siblings proceed. The house stands across a crumbling bridge, in the shadow of a menacing tree, which appears to be growing right through the house. The locals speak of the house in fearful whispers, and stories run rampant speaking of illness and death. Despite her inexperience and the wild stories surrounding the estate, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work for herself and for Kip.
Molly soon realizes, however, that all is not right in the house, or its inhabitants. Constance, Bertrand, Penny, and Alistair Windsor each struggle with personal demons and are getting sicker and sicker as time progresses; strange footprints appear each morning, no matter how many times Molly wiped them up the night before; foul dreams come to everyone staying in the house; and each person’s deepest, darkest wishes are being granted.
All the while, a malicious spirit haunts the estate—the Night Gardner.
How will Molly and Kip release the evil spirit’s hold over the family and the estate? Indeed, will they succumb, like the rest of the family?
What I liked
I thought this story was wonderfully creepy. I enjoyed the blurred lines of truth that the characters wove, depending on how they viewed the world, or what they thought the people around them wanted to hear. I think this is especially true when it comes to children and adults; adults sometimes think telling a story makes the truth easier to bear, but it’s not always the case. Knowing when to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is an important skill to have.
The atmosphere in this story was that of a Gothic novel, all shadowy corners, fog, and nightmare.
What I didn’t like
I know it seems like I’m very easy to please, but I didn’t find much about this story I didn’t enjoy. It was dark and nightmarish, but had humor at the right points to break the tension. Sometimes the hardest demons to confront are our own—which can be the scariest. I think that’s what scared me, more so than the Night Gardner—and can be my only criticism. Yes, it is easier to lie about a difficult truth, but in the end we all know we need to admit that fear–to ourselves; to our loved ones.
Pick this one up!