The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Recommended Ages: 12+
Something is preying on the minds and bodies of the Windsor family, and soon it starts to work on Molly, too. The house, or perhaps the tree, or perhaps it is the night man, gives each member of the household something that they would never be without, keeping them effectively caught in its trap while the life drains out of them. It's an evil thing that is hard to resist and even harder to destroy. Saving the family, if they can be saved, depends largely on a lame little boy learning to stand on his own, without magic, without a crutch, and perhaps even without being able to rely on his sister.
Besides being a legit chiller, this book also opens a view on the period of Ireland's Great Hunger (1845-49) and the prejudiced attitudes and behavior of the English toward the Irish during that desperate time. It draws a touching sketch of courage, family love, and perhaps on a between-the-lines level, the horror of being trapped by a heart's desire that is killing you - such as, for instance, an addiction. It is scary in a folkloric way, which I think outscares even a present-day ghost story like Jonathan Stroud's "Lockwood & Co." thrillers. With even more going on than this brief synopsis can hint at, it's a fully satisfying story for young readers that, believe me, can give a grown-up the heebie-jeebies.
Auxier is the author of two delightful "Peter Nimble Adventures" - Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard. His next book, due to be released in September 2018, is Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster.