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Next up on my 2015 Forest of Reading book list is The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier.  This title is by far the one I’ve been most looking forward to since the Forest of Reading nominations were announced in the Fall.  The title, cover, and summary all grabbed my attention immediately and as I cracked open the book yesterday morning, I found my anticipation was indeed on the mark.  This book is absolutely fantastic!

In the style of an old-world fable or fairytale, The Night Gardener tells the story of two abandoned Irish siblings, Molly and Kip, and their experience working for the Windsor family at their creepy and crumbling English manor.  The family members are all thin, pale and sickly.  One day while cleaning the library, Molly is astonished to find a portrait of the smiling, healthy-looking family painted only a year earlier.  What could have happened to change the residents of this house in such a short time?  The siblings quickly learn that something is indeed quite off and begin to suspect that the large and unusual tree that is literally rooted to the house is somehow involved.

The language and dialogue spread across the pages of Jonathan Auxier’s book are intoxicating, often compelling you to continue reading way past your bedtime.  The writing is simply superb.  The author has created a fluid and fascinating gothic tale filled to the brim with mystery, fantasy, and emotion.  I am equally impressed with how well Auxier has weaved a truly dark and fascinating tale with the real-world exploration of difference between stories and lies and the difficulty we often have in deciphering between the two.

I have approximately 100 pages left to read and I am left with mixed emotions.  Although I am eager and excited to see how this tale ends, I am also met with great disappointment to know that the my fantastical journey with Molly and Kip is almost at it’s end.  As we all prepare to return to school tomorrow and the Forest of Reading programs begin start-up, I am anxious to know if Silver Birch readers at Bruce Trail will agree with my deep admiration for the book.  Time will tell…

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