The Night Gardener /

by Auxier, Jonathan.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Amulet Books, [2014]Description: 350 pages ; 22 cm.ISBN: 9781419711442 :; 141971144X :.Subject(s): Ghosts -- Fiction | Household employees -- Fiction | Brothers and sisters -- Fiction | Orphans -- Fiction | Storytelling -- Fiction | Blessing and cursing -- Fiction | Dwellings -- Fiction | Horror storiesSummary: Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

A New York Times bestseller, The Night Gardener is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it's also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.<br> The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier's exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.<br> <br> Praise for The Night Gardener <br> STARRED REVIEW S <br> "Lots of creepiness, memorable characters, a worthy message, Auxier's atmospheric drawings and touches of humor amid the horror make this cautionary tale one readers will not soon forget."<br> -- Kirkus Reviews , starred review<br> <br> "Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale."<br> -- School Library Journal , starred review<br> <br> "Auxier achieves an ideal mix of adventure and horror, offering all of it in elegant, atmospheric language that forces the reader to slow down a bit and revel in both the high-quality plot and the storytelling itself."<br> -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books <br> <br> "All proper scary stories require a spooky, menacing atmosphere, and Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes) delivers the goods with his precise descriptions of the gothic setting and teasing hints of mystery and suspense."<br> -- The Horn Book Magazine <br> <br> Summer 2014 Kids' Indie Next List <br> <br>

Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

<opt> <anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Storyteller at the Crossroads  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. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate. Every person they spoke to muttered something omi- nous about "sour woods" and then refused to tell them more. "The Windsors?" said one lanky shepherd, whom Molly had stopped in the road. "I'd just as soon lead my flock to a lion's den." He propped himself against his crook, eyeing Molly from heel to head the way that men sometimes did. "Bethatasitmay,"Mollysaidinhermostpolitevoice,"it'swhere we need to be. The Windsors were expectin' us last week." "Then they can wait a little longer." The man summoned up some phlegm from his throat and spat it on the ground. "My advice: go back to whatever country you came from. The sourwoods is no place for anyone." He shuffled across the road and into the trees, a trail of bleating sheep behind him. Molly sighed. That was the third shepherd that hour. "What do you think they all mean by sourwoods?" Kip asked when the flock had passed and they were moving again. Molly did not know, and so she made something up. "You dinna know about the sourwoods?" she said, pretending to be astonished. "Why, it's a whole forest of nothin' but lemon trees and lemon blos- soms and lemon moss and lemon weeds. They say that when summer comes and the fruit is ripe, just breathin' the air will make your whole face pucker." She said things like this to let her brother know she wasn't worried. But she was worried. She and Kip had been riding almost nonstop for four days through rain and cold, led by a horse that barely tolerated them-- due in part to the fact that Molly did not know the creature's name  (she had told her brother it was Galileo, but the horse seemed to disagree). She had somehow imagined that English roads would be broad and level, but these roads were even worse than those back home. The mud was black and greedy, holding on to whatever touched it--including their back wheel, which had lost three spokes only the day before. What little food there had been in the back of the cart had long since been eaten, and now only a rancid, fishy odor remained. "Are you cold?" she said, noticing her brother shiver under his coat. He shook his head, which she could now see was damp. "I'm hot." Molly's heart fell. Kip had been sick for weeks and showed little sign of getting better. He needed clean clothes. He needed a bed and a bath and a proper meal. He needed a home. Kip stifled a cough against his sleeve. "Maybe all these folks is right," he said. "Maybe we should turn back to town . . . or go back home." Molly couldn't allow herself to wish for that. She and Kip were an ocean away from the place they called home. She put a hand on his forehead, which was warm. "To hear you talk, a person'd think Ma an' Da raised a pair of quitters. We'll find the place soon enough--directions or not--and there'll be hot food and a warm bed andhonestwork." They rode on, growing ever more lost, until midafternoon, when  they came across someone unexpected. First they heard her song--a sonorous drone that crept around the bend, slow and seductive. The music became louder as they approached, and they could soon make out a voice singing. It was an old manikin woman, not much taller than Kip, seated in the middle of a crossroads, singing to herself. The woman was clearly some sort of vagrant, for she carried upon her shoulders a huge pack bound with twine. The pack contained a clutter of random objects--hats, blankets, and lamps--as well as more interesting things like books, birdcages, and lightning rods. It reminded Molly of a snail's shell. The woman was hunched over a strange instrument almost the size of her body. The instrument had a crank at one end, and when she turned the handle, deep notes came out that Molly thought might be what it would sound like if honeybees could sing. Molly slowed the cart and observed the woman from a safe dis- tance. She was singing about an old man and a tree; her voice was surprisingly sweet. Molly had seen beggars playing instruments like this before in the market at home. A "hurdy-gurdy," they called it. "You think she's a witch?" Kip whispered to his sister. Molly smiled. "If that's a witch, she ain't much of one . . . hardly a wart on her! Only one way to know for sure, though." She flicked the reins, and their horse moved a little closer. "Pardon me, mum?" she called out to the woman. "My brother here'd like to know if you're a witch or not." The manikin woman continued playing, her fingers darting  along the keys. "I fear my answer will disappoint," she said, not looking up. "So you ain't a witch, then?" Kip called, apparently wanting to be completely clear on this point. The woman set down her instrument and peered at him, eyebrows raised. "Not everything old and ugly is wicked. I daresay that with enough years your lovely sister will look no better than I do . . . and it'll be her that's frightening children that come by!" She punctuated this with a suspiciously witchlike cackle. The woman struggled to her feet--which seemed a difficult task with so heavy a pack--and offered a neat curtsy. "The name's Hester Kettle. I'm the storyteller in these parts. I travel here and about, trading my songs for lodgings and food and odd things." She wiggled a shoulder, jangling the forks and wind chimes that hung from her pack. Molly hadn't known there was such a job as storyteller, but it sounded like fine work. Telling stories was one of the things she herself did best. She had told stories to sneak her brother out of the orphanage. She had told stories to get a horse. And if she en- countered any questions at her new job, she would tell stories once more. Still, there was something about this woman that made her uneasy. "And pray, mum," Molly said, "what's a storyteller doin' all the way out here? On foot, no less?" The woman shrugged, sucking something from her teeth. "I'm on foot because I've got no horse. As to why I'm here: new stories are rare in these parts. It's not every morning we get strangers come  through the hollow. And two foreigner children with nary a parent between them riding due south on a stolen fish cart?" She clucked her tongue. "Why, that's a story if I ever heard one." Molly caught her breath. It took everything in her not to look at her brother. "Wh-wh-who says the cart was stolen?" The woman grinned at her. "That look on your face says it twice over, dearie." "You take that back!" Kip said, surprising Molly. "We're no thieves. My sister bought the cart from a fisherman who had no use for it. He was joining the navy to fight giant squids." He beamed at his sister. "Ain't that right, Molls?" Molly nodded vaguely. "More or less." She stared at the woman, silently pleading with her to drop the subject. The old woman whistled. "Giant squids, you say? Seems the truth is more compelling than the lie." She nodded to Molly. "I apologize for accusing you in front of your brother. And let me congratulate you," she added, "for picking such a fine name for your vessel." She winked. "I've a feeling it suits you." The woman was talking about the letters painted on their wagon. The side had once read st. jonah's cod shoppe in gold script, but the paint had mostly worn off so that only the letters s, c, o, and p remained. "It's just a random jumble," Molly said. She didn't like this conversation. Something about the way the woman looked at her--looked into her--made her wary. "If you don't mind, mum, my brother and me are expected somewhere this morning."  The woman stepped near, blocking their path. "You're headed to the Windsor home, is that right?" Molly tried not to look startled. "Do you know 'em?" she said. "Not really. I did meet Master Windsor once, when he was no older than you. That was near thirty years back. Right before they shipped him off to live with relations in the city, poor thing." The old woman shook her head. "When he moved back here last autumn, family in tow . . . well, let's just say that surprised a few folks." Molly didn't think there was anything strange in returning to the place where one grew up. Only a few weeks here, and she would give anything to be back home in County Donegal--famine or not. "We're a little turned around at the moment," Molly said. "We asked some farmers what roads to take, but they were a bit shy with the answer." Hester Kettle nodded, looking out into the forest behind her. "Folks here think they're doing you a good turn by not telling you the way. None of them wants to be the one who steered two innocent babes to the sourwoods, foreigners though you may be." "And what's so bad about the sourwoods?" Molly asked. "Why, everyone in Cellar Hollow knows to keep clear of that place. Children are warned off by their parents, who were warned by their own parents, and so on as far back as any soul can remember." "So you don't know," Molly said. "Firsthand accounts are rare, but most folks claim to know some- one who knew someone fool enough to venture across the river into those woods." The woman hesitated for a long moment, her fingers  playing at the edge of her patchwork cloak. "They say the sourwoods changes folks . . . brings out something horrible in them. And then there's the other thing. Tragic, really." Kip leaned forward. "Wh-wh-what's the other thing?" he asked. Molly clenched her jaw. The last thing she needed was this old loon filling her brother's head with frightening nonsense. She caught Hester's eye. The old woman seemed to weigh Molly's glare and then smiled at Kip. "Just rumor and hokum, luv. Why, half of it's stories I made up just to earn a meal. You'll be fine." Molly nodded a silent thank-you. Whatever the rumors about this place were, it didn't matter. This job was their only chance to be safe and together. Who else would take in two Irish children with no guardians or references? Besides, if it were so bad, why would Master Windsor have moved his family there? "So, you'd be willin' to point us the way, then?" Molly asked. Hester rubbed her chin as if thinking it over. "I would. But I might ask a small favor in return." "We got no money," Molly said. Hester waved her off. "Nothing so large as that, dearie. I only ask that you come around and tell me a story or two about what you find there. Ever since the Windsors moved back, the hollow's been all abuzz with curiosity. A woman of my trade could eat for a month on that information." "That, I can do," Molly said. The old woman stepped aside and pointed down a path to the  left. "Ain't three miles as the crow flies. Follow the sound of the river, and if you hit a fork, take the way that looks overgrown--sourwoods is the road less traveled by far. When you come to an old bridge, well, you're right on top of it." Molly still wasn't sure whether the woman was being completely honest, but she decided that some directions were better than none. She thanked Hester Kettle, snapped the reins, and rode past her onto the rougher path. She and her brother descended into a gorge, and behind them she could hear the woman resume her singing. The haunting melody carried through the air, growing more and more faint. Molly wondered about what might be awaiting her and her brother at the house in the sourwoods, and what sort of story she might bring back for the strange old woman. She wished, silently, that it would be a happy one.  Excerpted from The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon> </opt>

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Horn Book Review

"Riding atop the [cart's] bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths." Or so it seems. The siblings have landed in England during the midst of the Irish Potato Famine. Waiting for their parents to rejoin them, they have found work at the once-proud Windsor family's stately but decrepit mansion in the countryside. The house appears to exert a malevolent force on its inhabitants, and the children gradually become aware of this evil and its increasing danger, most especially the Night Gardener, who saps the living of their life force to feed the wish-granting tree. All proper scary stories require a spooky, menacing atmosphere, and Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes) delivers the goods with his precise descriptions of the gothic setting and teasing hints of mystery and suspense. While the book partakes of many familiar tropes and themes -- orphans and their cruel taskmasters, bullies transformed by kindness, the slippery slope of greed and wantonness, the power of storytelling -- there's enough of a fresh spin on them that readers should be captivated. jonathan hunt (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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