Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston

Title: Nightfall Gardens
Author: Allen Houston
Series: Nightfall Gardens Book 1
Publisher: Flycatcher Books
Date of Publication: May 8  2013

Source:  Received from author in exchange for my honest opinion.
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy, Kindle edition, 249 pages

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

My Thoughts:

I received a copy of Nightfall Gardens for my honest opinion of it.  I wasn't sure if it would be my type of story; I was afraid it would be too much for the kids and not exciting enough for myself.  I shouldn't have worried!  This book is amazing!
Before I get to the actual story can we talk about the cover?
I love when the illustration conveys the story perfectly and this cover definitely does it!  I also love that it is in just black and white and the contrast is between the shadows and the light.  It's just beautiful!
Just as the cover is foreboding, so is the first chapter.  It really grabs you and pulls you in right away.  There is no lag in the story; no boring parts.  We are able to glimpse Lily and Silas' life before the Gardens just enough to understand their personalities.  
Lily Blackwood, our female protagonist, is the more vain and self centered one of the family.  She believes the world revolves around her and she deserves the theaters of Paris and beyond.
Silas Blackwood is more of a dreamer.  He lives for his writing and I  think, a good book too.  But he is kind and generous too.
The introduction of the their long lost Uncle ,one they never knew they had, comes into play it makes for even more exciting reading.
I found the Uncle enjoyable; although, probably everyone else sees him as the bad guy.  I don't know; I think he is admirable but committed to the safety of others as well.
As the plot goes through we get to see each character, Lily and Silas, mature into a more well rounded person as they go through their own path.  Each one adds a crucial element to the story that makes the book much more enjoyable for girls and boys.   Neither one overshadows the other one; instead they compliment each other from the love they feel for each other.

The world building was also a major plus too.  Mr. Houston creates this niche in the world that essentially is what is holding the world's worst nightmares and evil from being let loose on humanity. I love that there is three gardens: White, Shadow and the Labyrinth, and each one has your different baddies in it.  The nerd in me would love a drawing of the different gardens; a map if you will.  Ohh! And wouldn't it be cool to have like every different creature that resides there and what myth they come from contained in a list?
Aww that would be awesome!

I was simply astounded at the creativity that was put into making Nightfall Gardens.  I am also into having a mesh up of the different mythologies.  I have also wondered what would happen if we had different creatures and the different gods from the old myths come together.  Mr. Houston wove an exciting tale that flows smoothly throughout the story.  I really had a hard time putting the book down.
I am pretty much obsessed with this series now.  As soon as I finished this book, I ran to order book 2 and have already started it.  I also plan on picking up the whole series in print form to go on our "favorite books" bookshelf.  And as soon as my 11 year old twins finish the books they are reading, I know they will devour this one too.

I highly suggest giving this book a try.  It has so much to offer for both kids (12+) and grown ups too! It is a truly creative fantasy with so much action, you might find yourselves reading it through the night!

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