Reading Level: Middle Grade
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. I really enjoyed Auxier’s first book, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. This book was just as fantastic, if quite a bit creepier.
Molly and Kip are trying to find work after their parents left (we don’t learn why they are on their own until much later in the story). They hear that work is available at the creepy isolated house of the Windsor family. Many people warn them to turn back, but with no other prospects Molly and Kip takes jobs as a maid and a groundskeeper at this creepy estate. The longer they are there the more they realize things aren’t right. The Windsor family is weak and bleak looking, nothing at all like the pictures of the family before they came to live here. Then there is the creepy tree and the strange green door that the lady of the house warns Molly to never look behind…not to mention the creepy man in black who leaves footprints through the house at night…
This is a very well done and very creepy middle grade read. I found this to be a scary read as an adult (of course I am a bit of a chicken). The story has a very gothic Victorian overtone to it.
I liked the characters of Molly and Kip. They are doing their best to survive and I love how Molly weaves stories out of everything. The little Windsor girl was also an excellent character, she is so spunky and bubbly and with her youth she tries so hard to strive against the darkness of the house.
Kip is also an interesting character. He has been a cripple since birth and still he does his best to hold his own. Both Kip and Molly are responsible and admirable characters. But even they have trouble resisting the house and its lures.
Kip and Molly end up trying to unravel the mystery and figure out what ties the ugly old tree outside, the creepy Night Gardener, and the strange green door together. In the end their very lives, along with the lives of the Windsor family, are at stake.
The book is very well written and flows well, it is a very unique book. In the afterward Auxier mentions that he was inspired by Something Wicked This Way Comes. While I was reading this book I actually thought “oh my gosh, this is just as creepy as Something Wicked This Way Comes…” which is a book that totally freaked me out as a kid. So you definitely can see the influence of that story here.
There are some interesting topics of conversation in here. Molly likes to tell a lot of stories and sometimes her brother accuses her of lying; this brings up discussion of the difference between a story and a lie. There is also a lot of discussion about greed and it’s consequences (that is all I will say about that because of potential spoilers).
Overall I really enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to readers who like creepy historical fantasies. Seriously it’s a very creepy book, I had nightmares about the Night Gardener the night after I finished it. Still it was incredibly well written and impossible to put down, so I would definitely recommend if you like creepy Victorian reads.