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Author: Auxier, Jonathan
Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 12.0 Quiz: 166191
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 19.0 Quiz: 63712
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/01/14)
School Library Journal (+) (04/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (05/14)
The Hornbook (00/05/14)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/01/2014 Gr 4–6—Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale. Irish immigrants to England, Molly and Kip make their way to the Windsor house in search of employment. The great house stands in the shadow of a menacing tree, which locals speak of only in fearful whispers. Despite her young age and the warnings of a local storyteller, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work, but soon realizes that all is not right in the house. Constance, Bertrand, Penny, and Alistair Windsor each struggle with personal demons, and strange footprints appear at night. A malevolent spirit, the Night Gardener, haunts the estate, dooming its inhabitants with foul dreams while the tree grants wishes to entrap the recipients. Molly and Kip must face their own dark secrets to release the Gardener's hold and end his evil enchantments. Auxier gives readers a spooky story with depth and dimension. Molly's whimsical tales illustrate life's essential lessons even as they entertain. As the characters face the unhealthy pull of the tree's allurements, they grow and change, revealing unexpected personality traits. Storytelling as a force to cope with life's challenges is subtly expressed and adds complexity to the fast-paced plot. Readers of Mary Downing Hahn or Peg Kehret's ghost novels will connect with the supernatural elements and the independent child protagonists of Auxier's tale of things that go bump in the night.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2014 The attempts of Molly’s family to escape nineteenth-century Ireland’s Great Famine result in tragedy when her parents are lost at sea and Molly and her little brother Kip are stuck in England. Knowing they need more than Molly’s splendid tales to keep them fed, clothed, and healthy, they quell their ominous feelings about their new position at a remote house with a creepy tree. The employers, a pale and haunted family of four, clearly have an unhealthy relationship with the tree, a vile magical entity tended by an undead man who steals the children’s souls drop by drop to feed the wish-granting plant. Molly realizes that the seductive gratification of granted wishes is ultimately destructive, as it allows her to escape from the truth, and she resolves to save herself, her brother, and the family from the evil that is consuming them all. Molly is staunch and defiant, a sturdy protagonist who is loyal if not always wise in her efforts to protect those she cares for. As he did in Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (BCCB 10/11), Auxier achieves an ideal mix of adventure and horror, offering all of it in elegant, atmospheric language that forces the reader to slow down a bit and revel in both the high-quality plot and the storytelling itself. An informative author’s note offers a bit of background into the Great Famine in Ireland, and how kids like Kip and Molly might have found themselves as orphans in England at such young ages. AS - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 06/01/2014 Auxier’s second novel is part morality play, part ghost story, and all enthralling. Molly and Kip are Irish orphans seeking employment in England after their parents die in a shipwreck. Brave, quick-thinking Molly is solicitous of her younger disabled brother, and she feels guilty because she has managed to hide the truth about their parents’ death from him, spinning yarns about their travels and promising they will all be together soon. Molly finds them work as servants in a distinctly creepy, isolated country manor where a huge tree growing into the house is casting a spell over the inhabitants, among other mysterious goings-on. Auxier, like Molly, is a born storyteller, and he weaves a tale that will keep readers glued to the page. The outcomes may be expected, but the journeys are riveting, while the predictability conjures the comfort and satisfaction of a classic fairy tale. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.