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Nightfall Gardens

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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 the world is destroyed.

250 pages, Paperback

First published May 8, 2013

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About the author

Allen Houston

8 books52 followers
Allen Houston is a native Oklahoman who has lived in Japan and Indonesia. He has worked as a journalist at the Dallas Morning News and the New York Post. Allen lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughters, and a menagerie of animals.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,645 reviews5,101 followers
December 20, 2016
effective tale of horror and dark adventure, for the little ones. young Lily and Silas are whisked away from their parents and taken to the estate known as Nightfall Gardens, their ancestral home, and a locus for all that is full of malice and dark plans for the human kind. Lily and Silas come from a long line that has established itself as the caretakers and wardens of this treacherous supernatural place, which is locked in some sort of netherworld except for those brief moments when its gates open onto our world.

there are issues with the book. Lily is the worst sort of stereotypical girl protagonist - vain and self-absorbed and quite the little wuss - at least until the last few chapters. her transformation from twit to heroine was... unconvincing. meanwhile, her younger brother Silas is all that is brave and humble and endearing. ugh. also unconvincing was the mythology behind the creation of Nightfall Gardens, which appears to be based on simple-minded misreadings of both the Pandora and Prometheus myths.

ah well. enough of the negatives! 'tis the holiday season! despite its flaws, Nightfall Gardens is no lump of coal. it has a wonderfully creepy atmosphere: a manor full of haunted rooms and unpleasant surprises and inhuman servants and secret passageways; eerie, fogbound grounds surrounding the residence, thoughtfully divided into intriguing sections known as the White Garden, the Shadow Garden, and the Labyrinth. fun supporting characters. so many monsters. terrible mysteries. an adorable baby gargoyle. a brisk, often breathless pace that keeps the page turning; a narrative dashing forward but never rushed, always hinting at countless other untold stories. overall this was lots of fun.

and for the little ones, there is also plenty of gross. scabs and ooze and postules popping and pus running and rotting flesh and horrible smells. all of that. not my favorite sort of thing to read about, but hey I'm not exactly the target audience so my opinion on all of the gross and all of the yuck is sort of besides the point. kids, dive in! plenty of disgusting things for your amusement.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,309 reviews3 followers
December 22, 2019
** 12/22/19 Kindle version is FREE **

“Only later, when she was locked away at Nightfall Gardens, would Lily realize that the moment she saw the man with the wolf’s-head cloak was the beginning of the end of her old life.”

Fourteen year old Lily has dreams of being an actress on the famous stages of Paris. Her brother Silas is writing a play. Theirs is a family of the stage, their parents trying to make a go of a run-down theater in New Amsterdam.

Lily is a bit shallow and vain, Silas a bit of a dreamer, but as the story unfolds they both show they have more spunk and backbone that we might have thought. I liked them both. Silas especially is caring, empathetic and loyal. Lily isn’t as superficial as she comes across in the beginning. And they care about each other, which is nice.

This book starts out in New Amsterdam, which would be New York about 100 years prior to the Revolutionary War. I had thought it had a bit of a Victorian era feel, with carriages, etc. I was only off by a bit there. :D

Soon though the story moves on to Nightfall Gardens, the mysterious, spooky and exceedingly strange estate of the children’s dying grandmother.

Their uncle tells them, “I’ve done my duty keeping the dark at bay for 13 years, but it draws closer with each sip of Deiva’s faltering breath. Only a Blackwood daughter can keep the final night from coming.”

We get our first view of the house, “The ancient-looking palace rose out of nowhere to dominate the landscape. It was protected by a high stone wall that stretched to the horizon. He saw a jumble of towers, spires, and walls of windows that soared toward the heavens. Statues of gargoyles dominated the eaves.”


On the Blackwood estate it is always dusk or dark, never day. The gates only open to the outside world once a year for just a few days.

The house is strange, rooms move around, there are strange noises and sights. There are dangers for the unwary. The grounds, with the gardens, are strange and dangerous as well, full of odd, and bloodthirsty creatures determined to end the Blackwood line.

There are some grisly bits, and it’s definitely spooky, but would be fine for middle grade readers who can tolerate dark tales. Not for those sensitive, nightmare prone kiddies though. (Well, that depends too, I was one of those sensitive, nightmare prone kids and I would have liked it around the 8 – 12 age, but I would have been sleeping with the hall light on!)

But, I wouldn’t classify it as firmly middle grade, in spite of the ages of the main characters. It’s more complex in story and in writing than is typical for middle grade books. I’d recommend this from older middle grade to young adult readers, and even adult readers who can enjoy stories with young protagonists.

The story incorporates the myth of Pandora in an ingenious way, making it family history rather than myth. There are plants with magical properties such as healing or protection from evil creatures. The use of Greek myths, folklore, and other strange creatures, was reminiscent of Harry Potter. Although the plot is very imaginative and original and not anything like Harry Potter. I was very impressed, I can’t remember reading a book with a similar plotline.

A dark fantasy, also may appeal to fans of ghost stories, haunted house tales, and dark fairy tales. This is not a ghost story or fairy tale, but some of those elements are here.
Fair warning, the book does end with a cliffhanger.

I’ve already purchased and started reading the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Becks!.
319 reviews49 followers
May 10, 2022
If you are a fan of ya and fantasy, this is definitely a worthwhile read!!
Profile Image for Mihir.
645 reviews296 followers
November 14, 2013

Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic

ANALYSIS: Often it is said that never judge a book by its cover but over here that along with the blurb, was exactly what drew me to Nightfall Gardens. When the author approached us for a review, I read an excerpt and ended up asking for a review copy simply because of the intriguing narrative. Now usually I don’t review much in the YA/MG fantasy genre but with this book, I was glad to that I got to read it.

The story begins in the late seventeenth or early eighteen century (it’s never clarified) in New Amsterdam and opens up with Lily and Silas Blackwood who along with their mother and father are part of an acting troupe that travels from place to place, never setting any roots. The children are perplexed and sorely vexed at this aspect of their childhood. Soon a stranger who says he’s her uncle accosts Lily after their most recent play. Lily however is taken aback at his coarse manner and dressing however once Silas and her parents get involved, the family truth come leaking out.

Lily and Silas are the last pair of siblings for the Blackwood family and must return to their ancestral Blackwood mansion as time is running out for Lily. Thoroughly bemused at their predicament, the children soon are forced to go back and then learn more about their odd family history, odder relatives and other occupants of the mansion and lastly the deadly gardens (White, Shadow & the Labyrinth) that share the grounds around the mansion. Lily will have to take up the mantle that is bestowed upon her by birth and Silas will have to endure his station in the gardens for if they don’t learn everything then all is doomed.

This story is a nice middle grade fantasy, which deals with a family curse, Greek mythology and two siblings who get sucked into all of it. The story primarily focuses on Lily and Silas Blackwood who will have to survive Nightfall Gardens and all that it entails. I liked how the author set up the story and immediately set things into motion with the appearance of their uncle Jonquil. With a nice terrific addition of certain Greek mythology stories (and a tiny nod to Indian mythology as well), the author then paints a world that is crumbling and all rests on Blackwoods. Of course with this being a middle grade fantasy book, there are certain levels to be maintained in regards to characters, plot and the amount of creepiness laced into the story. The author does very well in making this story a scary one and his fertile imagination makes the Blackwood mansion as well as the gardens around it a very terrifying place for its inhabitants.

I loved the minutiae about the gardens (all three of them) and especially of the Blackwood family mansion, which is like a scary & twisted version of the Addams Family mansion. The storyline progresses smoothly as various characters and mysteries are unveiled and the reader is sucked deeper into the world of the Nightfall gardens. Both Lily and Silas take different routes as per their position in the family household and possibly are best suited to solve the mysteries that are prevalent in this world.

A thoroughly creepy and well-nuanced plot that ends on a solid note, Nightfall Gardens is a great MG/YA fantasy debut. For those readers who loved R.L. Stine when they were kids, might find this book very much to their liking. This was a different read for me simply because I’m not usually a reader of this genre but Allen Houston’s storytelling style and imagination have won me over and now I can’t wait to read the sequel The Shadow Gardens.

CONCLUSION: A creepy debut that manages to mix Addams family with Lemony Snicketts and provides a terrific read at the same time, Allen Houston marks himself out with Nightfall Gardens and will be sure to gain new fans as word spreads about this trilogy.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
884 reviews251 followers
March 20, 2017
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I received an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I usually read YA books, but I also have a love for MG. This is a very very very dark MG book! But I loved it!

Lily and Silas Blackwood's family is constantly moving from place to place, running various 'pathetic' plays. When a mysterious uncle shows up, one Lily and Silas knew nothing about, wanting to take Lily away, things change completely. It turns out that the Blackwood family is related to Pandora and since she opened the box, all the females in the family have to watch over Nightfall gardens and the horrors Pandora unleashed. Now, their grandmother (that, again, they never knew) is dying and Lily has to take her place. The siblings now have to face the horrors of the gardens and prevent the horrors from making it out into the real world.

The world-building and imagination involved in creating this book is amazing and I was fully able to imagine this horrible environment! I also liked how there was somewhat of a basis of mythology from multiple cultures added into the book. And the gardens are so very very creepy!

As for characters, there is a large handful. Lily and Silas are obviously the main characters and we get to switch every so often. Sometimes we see Lily in the mansion and sometimes we see Silas in the garden (as the men in the family are not allowed to be at the mansion). The two have their own flaws and, as siblings, do have points when they act as if they dislike each other, but they obviously do care about each other. There is also a large amount of supporting characters--some good, some not--but all fit well into the story!

Very dark but great start to a new series! If you enjoy dark, gothic books then I strongly suggest picking this book up!
Profile Image for Amy.
561 reviews24 followers
June 16, 2015
Trade paperback/YA Fantasy: This book has "Book One" on the cover, but it is actually "Part One". It does not end and you have to read the second book to see how two major story lines and three minor plots end. I had a problem with that because there was no defined plot to the book until the middle of the book. Granted, I understand Nightfall Gardens is YA and well written, but I wish the publisher let the writer finish out some of the story lines. I don't think it would hurt to let it go another hundred pages or more.

I could not figure out what year it was or how old the kids were. I looked up the name Lily and deduced that it was the late 1800s. At first I thought Silas as nine, but then I figured him to be 12 or 14. I think Lily is about 15.

I am a liberated adult woman and I didn't like the role of women in the book. The fictional lore of the story has a woman to blame, the family curse is only to the women, and the women are meant to helplessly roam around the mansion; the grandmother does a Great Expectations reenactment over her lost husband. The women are limited to whom they can marry and bare children with. I don't know, maybe it was because I saw The Heat last weekend, but I expect more out of women.

I normally don't say this, but I wish the book was longer. It is a good beginning to a series and there were a lot of plots to explore. I did not like that there was no ending and only, several, cliffhangers.

A disclaimer: I got this for free for a honest review.
Profile Image for Amy M.
314 reviews19 followers
August 3, 2013
[I won my copy through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway!]

The synopsis and cover were enough to garner my attention, and I have to say the book looks even better in person. I'm a sucker for quality illustrations, especially one with a decidedly vintage flair, and the gothic image set my mind abuzz.

From what I can gather this is actually a self-published novel (my first) which just added to my curiosity. In that vein it was a good introduction for me. Its written in an effortless way, where you feel like you're getting folded up within the world. The pacing is great, I never felt like it got too slow--it was always fresh. I liked the sense of mystery, and how steeped in shadow it felt. However, I don't know if it was just a stylistic choice (it did seem reminiscent of children's classics) but the long paragraphs seemed a bit odd to me, especially when containing dialogue. It made some spots unnecessarily hard to follow.

For this kind of story the world-building and tone are of the utmost importance and I think it succeeded there. The characters were defined but not incredibly fleshed out. Lily, the protagonist, was purposefully shallow and I thought it was a bit much in places. Overall I liked the characters though so I can't say it was problem.

I really enjoyed my read and will be holding onto my copy for sure. This was a very interesting and original story. I would say though that it felt like it was just one round of editing shy of being finished. I think with just a bit more polish this would've been a spectacular read. As it was it was very strong debut and I am eager to read more.

Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,132 reviews271 followers
December 15, 2014

Oh, what a wonderful book! This book ( and series) appeals to that deep part of my soul that was enraptured by THE SECRET GARDEN as a child, and by the concept of Brigadoon (appearing only centennially). WHO cannot love a living, sentient, always mutable house? Or gardens full of shapeshifters, monsters, and the Dead? I am always magnetized by stories of family curses and a family chosen to hold back evil, throughout their generations. Here there are two such lineages. And the characters!! The housekeeper weaves a web and cocoons herself every night; long-deceased Grandfather periodically rides his steed near the house, to check up. Brother Silas is quintessential Hero; and Sister Lily is beautiful and vain, but has potential. I can't wait to read the next two in the series.
Profile Image for Amanda White.
147 reviews
February 22, 2014
I liked this book quite a bit...Full of mystery , creatures and myth. A story that kept my attention and made me want to keep reading . If you like greek mythology, horror stories, paranormal stories and mystery you would like this book .
Profile Image for Kaila.
83 reviews9 followers
November 30, 2022
I immensely enjoyed this gritty, dark fantasy coming-of-age story. Nightfall Gardens is everything I wanted and expected out of Schwab’s Gallant but didn’t get. Our protagonists, siblings Silas and Lily, are put into unexpected roles as they are whisked off to their ancestral home by their estranged uncle. Lily is to take up as protector of the house and lands as the last female heir after her ailing grandmother. The choices they make over the following months shape them into the young adults they will become.

Even though this book is considered YA because of our main characters’ age, the writing never feels as such nor does it contain the usually tropes or plot devices you would typically find in that age category. It is in fact very accessible writing and could be enjoyed by anyone middle grade (given their comfort with scarier material) through adults. Highly recommend for anyone want a really good creepy atmosphere. Cannot wait to continue on with the series.

(Also, the cover art is amazing and wish I had it hanging in my house.)
Profile Image for Amy_Read to My Heart's Content.
284 reviews7 followers
February 2, 2015
Original review at: http://readtomyhearts.blogspot.com/20...

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!

Profile Image for John Clark.
2,261 reviews25 followers
January 20, 2021
Deceptively smooth read with an interesting world, great characters and plenty of creep. It ends on a major cliffhanger, so I played it safe and ordered both books 2 & 3 right after I finished.
Profile Image for Angie.
1,214 reviews131 followers
January 12, 2014
“Nightfall Gardens” was a surprisingly good read. I knew from the book summary that it was going to be a fantastical adventure, but never would I have been able to guess just how much of a fantastical adventure it was going to be. I was astounded by this author’s obviously limitless imagination! He conjured up creatures I’ve never heard of before, and then proceeded to entwine them with mythical creatures to create a novel that would test the boundaries of every imagination.

The writing itself is off to a bit of a rocky start, but a few chapters into it the author finds his rhythm and the pacing evens out. The two main characters only grew on me more towards the end, and it is rather the secondary characters who made more of an impact on me. I was one hundred percent fascinated and enthralled with the wholly terrifying world of the Nightfall Gardens. This is definitely not a light read for younger readers, but most certainly one that will be enjoyed by tweens, teens, and older readers. “Nightfall Gardens” is a captivating story with loads of surprises, twists, secrets, magic, and deadly creatures. I’m eagerly anticipating reading the next book in this series, as this one ended with a huge cliffhanger finale.
Profile Image for Jen.
1,783 reviews58 followers
January 21, 2015
Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston. Supposed to be for a younger audience, but the novel seems a bit dark and grotesque for the younger age range, and for an older YA audience, the lack of characterization might be a problem. I found it hard to care about any of the characters, and this is the kind of novel that demands that you care about the danger the young people are in.

There are frightening experiences and grotesque and sinister characters that only elicited an intellectual response (from me), but not an emotional one. For macabre atmosphere and monsters are nightmarish, and yet the protagonists don't truly engage emotionally. I simply couldn't feel the appropriate concern for the characters despite the frightening circumstances. The author mentions a reader as young as ten, so maybe my evaluation isn't the best, but I won't be reading more in the series. I found it disappointing.

Neat cover, though.

"The beginning of a Harry Potter-esque series for those
who prefer gross-out horror to magical whimsy."
- Kirkus Reviews


YA/Horror. 2013. 249 pages.
Profile Image for Lavender  Sparrow.
251 reviews33 followers
May 10, 2014
I really did enjoy Nightfall gardens very much, but I wanted it to be scarier.
I loved the easy to read but vivid writing style. The story was good; you really have two stories working alongside each other. As we find out what is happening in the house told from Lilly’s point of view, we read about the gardens told by her brother Silas. The characters where instantly likeable and some of the creatures that are found in Nightfall were brilliantly imagined.

I really have nothing bad to say about Nightfall Gardens, I am picking up the second book to read as we speak. The only thing that’s stopping it being amazing for me is the fact I found it creepy not scary.
Profile Image for Matt.
2 reviews
May 28, 2013
I read this book in two days because I didn't want to put it down. While it's technically a YA novel, it has a depth that makes it work for me. Houston incorporates an interesting mix of Greek mythology, ghosts, goblins, and his own novel creatures to create a terrifying world that, without the efforts of a young girl and her brother, will soon be consumed by them. I'm a fan of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" Trilogy and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game Series; this first volume is up there with those. I'm really looking forward to the next two.
1 review1 follower
July 4, 2013
Fun read! As a junior high teacher, I preview all new books before adding them to my classroom library. This is another one my students will love. It has an edge to it that keeps readers hooked, children and adults. And like other great YA authors, Houston fills Nightfall Gardens with literary devices that add to the story's richness: symbolism, foreshadowing, metaphor, theme, personification, to name a few. I am really looking forward to the next book!
Profile Image for Jessica Burchett.
Author 3 books13 followers
March 21, 2018
3.75 out of 5 stars

Nightfall Gardens is a dark little story about Lily Blackwood and her brother, Silas, are whisked away from their nomad lives as "actors" on their father's theater stage by their surprise uncle to a surprise grandmother living on a surprise estate - Nightfall Manor in Nightfall Gardens.

The story is, their family is descended from Pandora. Yes, that Pandora. They are the entrusted (forced) caretakers of the gardens which imprison all the evil beings - old gods, mummies, jinkinki (the best I can gather from Google is that this is jikininki - a Japanese spirit that eats human corpses), fae, etc. etc. et al.

Lily was the star of the show so to speak due to her looks and was spoiled hence. Her brother loves her but thinks her soft. After her uncle, whom they've never heard of, comes and whisks her away with a story about her being the last Blackwood female, Silas sneaks away with them. They're followed by their parents who are trying to save them, but not closely enough, and they make it to Nightfall just in the nick of time as the gate closes until the following year.

It's a good story, but I found I had a hard time continuing through it. It was dark and dreary as its subject, and there were quite a few stories within the story - Cassandra, the dusk riders, their quarrel, the house help, the creatures.

The ending was quite abrupt and a serious cliff-hanger, one that makes me think that the whole of the story should have been one book. This installment was 250 pages, and the next one, The Shadow Garden, clocks in at 370, while the final book, The Labyrinth is a whopping 520 pages. I'm debating continuing with the series, but I have downloaded a preview of The Shadow Garden. I will update if I continue with the series.
44 reviews
October 7, 2021
Nightfall Gardens is a strange mix of R. L. Stine and J. K. Rowling, and somehow the combination culminates in a fun, brisk horror fantasy read that offers haunting imagery, good character development, and a world that feels exciting to experience. While it doesn't feel like a fully fleshed out book and acts as more of a prologue than full story, it's a book that still manages to hook the reader. It's intriguing, action-packed, and creepy, making it a breezy read that will answers enough questions to feel satisfied, but holds enough answers back to make you hungry for Book Two. Great Halloween read for teen readers or open minded adult readers who just want to get lost in a fun story!
Profile Image for Cattie Whaley.
208 reviews1 follower
October 6, 2021
Wasn't sure when I started reading if this was the right book for me but it picked up quickly and had me hooked. Spooky, interesting characters, and a good storyline all worked well in this first book. Excited to start the next one. Highly recommend!
135 reviews
October 23, 2021
Fantastic page turner fantasy/supernatural aimed at the younger reader but I for one ( and I’m nearly 50) can’t wait to start book 2 of the trilogy and see where the adventure takes us
Profile Image for Ruth.
412 reviews18 followers
February 15, 2022
I think I might have finally found a fantasy book (series) that I like!
I feel like I've read a movie while at the same time loved the script!
Great story - straight into it.
Brilliant descriptive writing. Fast paced book, a quick read for me. I am not a fan of series really, but I'm going to read the other 2 books in this one.
Profile Image for Tricia.
663 reviews24 followers
January 18, 2015

Wow. I was really pleasantly surprised by Nightfall Gardens. I mean, I definitely found the synopsis interesting, but I was not expecting the level of imagery I got once I was ensnared inside the Nightfall Gardens. This is one of those stories that you read that the world, and it's inhabitants, are so rich and completely incredible that you crave to see these ideas brought to life! Seriously, this book could SLAY as a graphic novel, with the right artist, although I have seen the other covers for the books in this series and those are pretty spectacular, so maybe there is already an amazing artist around. Just thinking out loud, or rather on paper, here.

I LOVE that the creepiness factor is easily enough for both an older child, or an adult to enjoy. There were a few monster in here that gave me the chills! The most chilling thing about them (beyond their creeptastically frightening physical appearances) was that they attracted you as much as they repelled you. They beckoned you with their terrible beauty. You could be frightened or repulsed, and yet still find yourself gravitating towards them, full of curiosity.

I was captivated by the dark beauty of Nightfall Gardens. It had a creepy Pan's Labyrinth feel to it, if you could envision living inside of the Labyrinth 24 hours aday and being trapped there for long periods of time. And I loved it!! I don't even know what part I enjoyed more, the garden areas, or the house! The idea that the house was a living thing, constantly changing and dangerous, but also your only haven for Blackwood women and the strange staff. I liked the idea that the manor was essentially like the Blackwood's guard dog, but one that had a mind of it's own with vicious teeth that could turn on the same one that it's sheltering. Brilliant! I feel as if we have really only scratched the surface of Nightfall Gardens and I already can't get enough.

I appreciated feeling like a character in the story myself. We got to take this trip and discover all the wonders and atrocities right along with Lily and Silas. They stood out like shinning stars in the darkness surrounding them. I immediately liked Silas, he seems smart, and sweet and just good. Lily took me awhile longer to warm up to. She's rather vain, and selfish. I did like that Lily evolved throughout the story though, and by the end I had pretty high hopes for the person she could become one day. I do wish that the characters were just a little more fleshed out. I felt like we never quite got beyond their exteriors. There were bits and pieces there, but I would have adored more. One more dimension to these characters could have, in my mind, brought this story up to 5 stars. I am undoubtedly intrigued by them, but I'm not quite invested in them emotional....yet. The great thing is, this is only the first book in the series, so there is a lot of potential there for everything to grow. I really look forward to seeing what the next installment holds!

Lastly I have to say thank you to Houston, not only for this gifted copy, but also because my daughter is 12 years old, and you gave me a perfect book recommendation for her. I know this seems rather small, but my picky, rambunctious girl is, much to my dismay, not an avid reader. It is very hard to find a book that can grasp her attention and hold it for the entirety of the story. I think Nightfall Gardens is perfect for her! This fast paced story with all it's dark wonders is precisely the kind of book that she will love!!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for T.M.B.A. Corbett.
167 reviews36 followers
February 10, 2015
Check out the review on my blog and see other giveaways and fun stuff!
I was asked to review this book by the author. I looked up the book and loved the synopsis and cover, so I told him I would review it. I was a bit nervous because what if it was a complete let down and I had to tell the author that my review wouldn't be so kind. Thankfully though the book lives up to the cover and description. Actually it does better than that it blew my mind. This book is the best Gothic novel I have read in a long time. The writing is so descriptive with an amazing plot and WTF chapter cliffhangers! I love that the story is told from Lily's and her brother Sila's point of view cause it was easy to connect with them as characters and made the story enjoyable to read.
I honestly want to go on and on and on about how descriptive; dreamy, dark, spooky and Imaginative, the story was. Honestly I wish I could write like that but I am still trying to practice the skill of weaving together adjectives to create a story the jumps of the page!
This first book was a page turner, with great characters, and a story, despite its spooky theme, that comes to life in your mind. A must read for everyone!
Honestly everyone is talking about the Red Rising Series book series by Pierce Brown right now, but I feel they should be talking about the Nightfall Gardens series! It would make a great TV series!
I have the complete series so next week expect my review of book 2 The Shadow Garden!
Profile Image for Bruce Gargoyle.
874 reviews144 followers
January 31, 2015
Ten Second Synopsis:
Lily and Silas are taken against their will to Nightfall Gardens, there ancestral home in a void between the our world and the next, and repository of all ickiness.

It is nice to find a YA horror/paranormal/fantasy sort of a book with an original premise and setting. Nightfall Gardens (the book) was as creepy as all the reviews I read promised it would be. In fact, Nightfall Gardens (the house and grounds) was almost too depressing and hopeless for my liking. The section in which Silas and Arfast come upon the creatures from the White Garden having a raucous party reminded me strongly of the scene of Aslan's sacrifice in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - it had that sense of the despair associated with the triumph of evil and the knowledge that hideous things are now inescapable. Essentially, it had a real sense of "things are going to get worse before they get...well, even worserer than that!"

I would have liked to see a bit of humour or something to flesh the child characters out a bit as I did feel that the oppressive atmosphere was too much at times, but that's just my preference. The servants in the house - Polly and Ozy, and the ever cheerful Grumpog maid - were a highlight and I could just see them being brought to life in a im Henson-esque movie masterpiece.

Overall this is an original and engaging read for those who like a dark twist on their fantasy books.

Profile Image for Rob Slaven.
480 reviews53 followers
November 27, 2014
As is almost always the case I received this item free in exchange for a review. Also as always I'm still completely honest about the book despite the powerful lure of free stuff.

The high-level view on this book is that it's rather reminiscent of The Addams Family... if the Addams family happened involved in a inter-species civil war with entirety of human mythology. The general tone is incredibly varied and wonderfully dark. If you like dark novels in which some new species of creature with bizarre new properties is always popping up then this one is for you.

To the positive, as I said above, the book is wonderfully varied and wanders far afield of the usual dwarves/fairies/elves that one typically sees. The author has left no stone unturned when it comes to creativity and mining the whole of historical mythology. Further, the text is simply written and youth friendly. While it is dark it's not inappropriately graphic so I'd give it to any reader who was so inclined to the subject matter.

The only negative I could note, which isn't really a negative for me, is that the text is unforgivably dark. There is no real glimmer of hope to be seen here. The author puts you in a dark and uncertain spot and leaves you there without apology. Personally I find that refreshing but many readers may not find themselves able to adjust to the situation.

In summary, a brilliant little novel for those who like it nice and grim with a side of hopeless moroseness.
Profile Image for Star.
1,288 reviews63 followers
March 27, 2015
NIGHTFALL GARDENS tells the story of the Blackwood family. We’re first introduced to Lily, who longs for the stage lights of Paris and London and her brother Silas, who is shy and timid. Their parents run a small traveling theater troop which has yet to turn any substantial profit. When Lily’s uncle shows up, he kidnaps Lily and Silas follows after to rescue her. What Lily and Silas don’t know is Lily is the last Blackwood female and is needed to take over for her grandmother as guardian and protector of Nightfall Gardens, as the curse demands. If Lily refuses or doesn’t show up in the once-a-year window when the gates are open before her grandmother passes, the ancient evils housed within Nightfall Gardens will be unleashed upon the world. Both Lily and Silas have new roles in this strange world and if they cannot resolve the curse, they may be stuck in Nightfall Gardens forever. NIGHTFALL GARDENS starts off slowly and ends very abruptly. I wish there had been a bit more detail about what lives in each of the gardens, but I liked the origin of the curse on the Blackwood women and the information we do learn about each garden they protect from the rest of the world. NIGHTFALL GARDENS has good writing, but I was a little discouraged at the abrupt ending.
Profile Image for Beverly.
3,198 reviews19 followers
February 8, 2022
I liked the idea of this book. A brother and sister are kidnapped and taken to their family's manor where they discover that they are the last of the Blackwood family. Their family had been charged with protecting the estate where the contents of Pandora's Box resided after having been released when the box was opened. The walled manor grounds, including the 3 gardens, have been barring all the escaped evil from the rest of the world. I just thought that the actual story was not only a little on the "gueasy stomach" side in it's description but a little all over the place. Maybe it's more because it's the first book in a series and there was just so much information to get in but I have no interest in reading any further in the series.
Profile Image for Elaine Miller.
33 reviews
January 22, 2014
I wasn't too sure at first but this book really hits it's stride a couple chapters in. The author has used an interesting mix of creatures from fairytales and mythology to populate the gardens and the house is wonderfully gothic and creepy. The characters really grew on me by the end of the book and I'll definitely be picking up the next novel to find out what happens to them especially since this one ended on such a cliffhanger!

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