Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Review: The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground.

Premise/plot: Molly and Kip are Irish orphans desperate for a new start. (Kip doesn't remember their parents death, and Molly is less than honest about why their parents aren't around.) They've been hired on as servants at a rundown, creepy estate. (The book is set in the Victorian era, by the way). The two soon understand why everyone warned them away from the job. There's something very, very wrong about the house, the family, and THE TREE. (It isn't too long after their arrival that Kip sees a mystery man wearing a top hat entering the house at the dead of night. And Molly, well, she sees his muddy footprints all throughout the house, and, even discovers his blown-away hat.) But desperate for work AND coming to love the little girl, Penny, she's reluctant to leave with no other place to go. And then she pieces together enough clues as to why the family stays…and their reason soon becomes her own…

My thoughts: I love this one. That would be a big understatement. I love, love, love, LOVE this one. It was published in 2014, I've already read it FOUR TIMES. 

I love the writing style, the atmospheric setting, the characterization, the symbolism, the layers of meaning. I notice something new every time I read it. It's such a wonderful, amazing book. One that every Christian should read!!!

Now is it officially a Christian book? No. Not really. Not at all. I'm sure there are plenty of readers who never "see" biblical truth in the pages of this middle grade fantasy. But I'm convinced it is there all the same. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

The opening sentence is pretty cool, and the premise seems interesting. I've only read a couple of books that are Christian-based, and they are hit or miss for me. This one looks interesting, I might need to check it out at the library. Thanks!

Becky said...

Natalie, the book isn't "Christian" necessarily. It's published by a secular publisher and it is in no way marketed as a "Christian book." But as a believer I picked up on themes--intended or not--that speak of spirituality in a way that I really love.

Heather G. said...

I also loved this book. It's a great book because it can speak to anyone from any background Christian or otherwise. I'm so glad this one stuck out for you. Wonderful review.