The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is a delightfully creepy Gothic horror tale set in Victorian England. Fourteen-year-old Molly and ten year-old Kip were separated from their parents while sailing from Ireland to England and are desperate to find jobs–because that means a warm place to sleep and food to eat. The pair are so desperate that they agree to sign on at the Windsor manor even though the rumors surrounding the imposing dwelling and its gaunt inhabitants are many and unsettling. It doesn’t take long for the siblings to encounter a secret room, a gigantic gnarled tree, and a mysterious night visitor and to see how the family is at the caught in a self-woven web of terror. This creepy tale is masterfully well-paced and suspenseful. And the horror is of a thought-provoking kind not often encountered in middle grade books. Rebecca Caudill readers are sure to savor this one–but with the lights on!
Here is a great author interview in which Auxier shares insight into his craft and advice for writing, courtesy of the Texas Bluebonnet Award, for which The Night Gardener was a nominee in 2015-16.