Monday, 9 October 2017

The Night Garden

Author: Polly Horvath
Genre: Mystery, Middle School, Gothic
Type: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Puffin Canada
First Published: September 12, 2017
First Line: "This is the story Winifred, Wildred and Zebediah; Crying Alice; and Flying Bob."

Book Description from GoodReadsIt is World War II, and Franny and her parents, Sina and Old Tom, enjoy a quiet life on a farm on Vancouver Island. Franny writes, Sina sculpts, and Old Tom tends to their many gardens--including the ancient, mysterious night garden. Their peaceful life is interrupted when their neighbor, Crying Alice, begs Sina to watch her children while she goes to visit her husband at the military base because she suspects he's up to no good. Soon after the children move in, letters arrive from their father that suggest he's about to do something to change their lives; and appearances from a stubborn young cook, UFOs, hermits, and ghosts only make life stranger. Can the forbidden night garden that supposedly grants everyone one wish help them all out of trouble? And if so, at what cost?

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: This is a strange and funny tale with quirky characters. Going into it I had expected a Gothic Middle-School mystery with a hint of paranormal but got something quite different. Let's put it this way, if Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and Lemony Snicket were mixed together out would pop The Night Garden as their bookish concoction. 

Franny (ie. Anne) is our wayward orphan who speaks her mind and is left with Sina and Old Tom (Marilla and Matthew). We have the eerie Night Garden (a dark, murky, supernatural version of Mary Lennox' famous garden) and a mishmash cast of peculiar characters (a la Snicket). The off-beat and often funny dialogue made this book for me. It had the right amount of sarcasm and great one-liners that had me, quite literally, chuckling out loud.

But ... I was surprised and more than a little let down that the Night Garden, the title 'character', barely made it into the book and was underutilized. I had expected less of the missing plane mystery (which just wasn't riveting) and more focus around the eerie goings on in the garden.

In the end, this is a strange tale with some memorable, quirky characters and solid writing.  There's a lot going on and for the most part it worked but more focus on the mystery and the Night Garden would have made this a better read for me.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Puffin Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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