The Night Gardener Summary & Study Guide

Jonathan Auxier
This Study Guide consists of approximately 49 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Night Gardener.
This section contains 824 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Night Gardener Summary & Study Guide Description

The Night Gardener Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Auxier, Jonathan. The Night Gardener. Amulet Books. Amulet Paperback Edition, 2015.

The Night Gardener is a young adult mystery-horror novel by Jonathan Auxier in which the orphaned Molly and Kip work at, and face down the sin of greed in the form of the phantasmic Night Gardener at the Windsor estate in Victorian-era England. When the novel begins, Molly and Kip (who has a deformed leg) have fled Ireland, which has been ravaged by a horrible famine. They are nearly killed when their boat sinks crossing over to England, but their parents ensure they are on the final lifeboat. Unfortunately, their parents die at sea. In England, Molly and Kip take on work at the Windsor Estate in the woods near the town of Cellar Hollow. As they travel to the estate, locals warn them to stay away. At a crossroads in the woods, they meet Hester Kettle, a storyteller who also encourages them to be careful. Kip worries about going on, but Molly says they have no choice as they need the work.

The Windsor estate is located on an island in a wide river in the woods. The island itself is wooded, except for a lawn full of miniature hills along which rests the Windsor manor and the stables. Beside the manor is a large old tree which intertwines and grows inside the house. There is a small clearing in the island woods where a night garden blossoms. Molly and Kip are wary about working for the Windsors, who all look pale, thin, and ill, from seven year-old Penny to the young-teenaged Alistair to their mother, Constance, and their father, Bertrand. Only Penny is friendly toward Molly and Kip, but as time goes on, Molly and Kip learn that things are not what they first seem. The Windsors are a family in crisis because of the tree. Molly awakens at night to see a man in black clothing moving through the house and sopping the perspiration from the foreheads of the nightmare-stricken Windsors to water the tree.

As Molly and Kip learn through their own investigations, and through information from Hester in the village, the tree is a wishing tree that grants the heart’s deepest desires through a knot hole that opens up into an empty room on the second floor, locked behind a green door. Each time the tree grants a desire, however, it takes a piece of the wisher’s very soul. Bertrand, heavily in debt, receives money. Constance, wishing for the love she first had with her husband, receives wedding rings (which are constantly resized smaller because she is wasting away). Penny, who misses story-time with her mother, receives storybooks. Alistair, greedy for candy, receives candies. Even Molly succumbs to the tree, wanting letters from her dead parents. Only Kip manages to avoid falling into the trap by refusing to use the leg balm provided by the tree. It is learned that the Night Gardener was once a kind and friendly gardener who sold his soul for immortality to be with his family forever – only to be consumed and connected to the tree.

With the help of Doctor Crouch, a medical doctor and scientist from the village, Molly and Kip attempt to capture the Night Gardener. A freak accident leads to Hester – who appears at the estate out of curiosity – being caught and hurt to the point where it kills her. The Night Gardner kills Crouch. Before Hester dies, she gives Molly an oilskin package, telling her to open it when the time is right. Molly and Kip, who have fled the estate, realize they must go back and try to save the Windsors. They finally get through to Bertrand when they show him that the Night Gardener has dug graves for them all, and all of the tiny hills on the lawn are actually graves. Bertrand, who believes he would have nothing without the tree, finally decides his family is worth more, so he decides to move them out. However, two loan sharks, Fig and Stubbs, appear to enforce payment of Bertrand’s debt, trapping the family. Only through showing them the tree does Molly make escape possible, for the Night Gardener emerges from the tree and kills Fig and Stubbs. Molly and Bertrand work together to burn the tree and house down, which in turn destroys the Night Gardener.

As the novel ends, Constance offers to let Molly and Kip become a part of the family for all they have done, but Molly and Kip say goodbye and move on. The oilskin parcel from Hester turns out to be a map with a red dot in the corner, indicating where Molly and Kip might find home. Molly and Kip decide to journey to the red dot, and adventure along the way. As they travel, they tell stories to one another.

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