Sunday, 8 March 2015

Book Review // Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston

Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston {Goodreads}
Published by Flycatcher Books in 2013
Kindle edition; 249 pages {BookDepository}
"Vain Lily Blackwood and her shy brother Silas wonder if their family will ever settle in one place long enough to lead a normal life. When a mysterious stranger arrives claiming to be their uncle, they discover their parents have been hiding a secret that turns their world upside down. The two are kidnapped to Nightfall Gardens, the family’s ancestral home, a place shrouded in ancient mystery, where they meet their dying grandmother and learn of an age-old curse placed on Blackwood females. Lily must take over as protector of the house and three haunted gardens that hold mythical beasts, fairy-tale nightmares and far worse. If she doesn’t, the evil trapped there will be unleashed and bring on a new dark age. While she deals with malevolent ghosts inside the house, Silas is put to work in the gardens, where one wrong step means death. Along the way, they search to unlock the secrets of the house and to stop the creatures in the gardens before time runs out and the world is destroyed".


{First of all, I need to thank the author, Allen Houston, for allowing me to read his book in exchange of an honest review}


Nightfall Gardens follows the story of two siblings, Silas and Lily, who live with their parents in New Amsterdam doing theatre. While performing a play, a mysterious man appears and turns out to be the kids’ uncle. He’s come to take Lily to Nightfall Manor since she’s the last of the Blackwood women and her destiny is to be the new head of the house and protect the outside world of all the horrors living in the gardens.

Allen Houston uses Greek mythology to explain the reason of the existence of the gardens and everything that lives within – from fairies, witches and ghosts to incredibly venomous plants which have human minds. However, the Manor is not the idyllic house and there are mysteries in there as well. Rooms change places and creatures may trick you into going where you shouldn’t… long story short: go to the wrong place and you may not live to see tomorrow. The book, as you can tell, has a gothic sense to it and although I do quite like the genre, it also scares me. There were some rather chilling and eerie scenes – especially one involving dolls and spiders.

The world building is pretty interesting and so rich. Of course there are a lot of things unresolved at the end of the book, which is understandable because it is a trilogy, but that’s precisely what make you keep reading: the need to know more. The story is set on the past. The exact date is not given but taking into account New York was still called New Amsterdam we can say it’s the seventeenth century. All of this also influences the writing style. They way some characters speak and some expressions they use are old but, to be honest, that helps getting into the story.

Regarding the characters, I didn’t appreciate Lily very much at the beginning. She was so full of herself and bigheaded but as the story goes on and she lives inside the house she starts to realize she can’t let anything from the gardens escape to the outside world. However, that doesn’t really prevent her from trying to find a way to get out of the gardens without releasing the creatures. Silas, her brother, is probably my favourite character. He goes after her sister when she’s kidnapped and he also leaves everything behind to become a rider to defend the Manor and his sister. He’s an incredibly loyal person and even though he is terrified sometimes, he does everything to keep her sister safe even if it means putting his life in dangerJonquil, the uncle, can be rough sometimes but, I believe, he just feels alone. He’s dedicated all his life to protect the Manor and his mother doesn’t really appreciate it. I’m dying to see how his character goes in the next books because he seems like Silas to me in a way. Other characters I really like are Mr. Hawthorne and his daughter Cassandra, who has green skin; Polly, Ozy and Ursula, who help inside the house; and last, Larkspur, another rider who adds a bit of humor to the story.

Lastly, I need to mention that the pace of the story is very consistent. There is not a dull moment and the more you’re into the story, the more you wanna keep reading to know what will come next. In addition, there is a big cliffhanger and in fact, not getting to know everything at the end was something else I enjoyed about Nightfall Gardens.

Overall, Nightfall Gardens is a nice start to a trilogy, with great potential. Allen Houston has crafted an unnerving and fantastical world full of mysteries and amazing creatures. I’m so eager to read the next two installments.


My Rating:

            



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