Although this isn’t a Halloween-themed book, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is a devilishly creepy, engrossing tale for the spooky season. Irish immigrants Molly and Kip have taken jobs as the help at the Windsor estate in England. Orphaned and without resources, they are counting on the job to sustain them and keep a solid roof over their heads. When they arrive, though, they find that the estate is not all that they had hoped it would be: Something is deeply troubling about the house, which has a huge gnarled tree embedded in its side and roots weaving through the foundation. The locals call the estate the “sourwoods.”
Something is not right with the Windsor family, either. They are ill-looking, ill-tempered, and secretive. Molly and Kip do their best to improve the house’s halls and gardens and befriend young Penny Windsor, but it’s not long before a ghastly apparition reveals the Windsor’s desperate secret and the horrifying truth about the sourwoods. When Molly and Kip arrived at the estate they thought their biggest challenge would be keeping their jobs; soon they realize that staying alive will be even more difficult.
Scary and riveting, The Night Gardener is a spine-chilling story for ages 10 and up. Auxier’s characters are plucky and likable but its his unique fiend that will haunt you long after you’ve put the book down.