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Nightfall Gardens #2

The Shadow Garden

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Precocious Lily Blackwood carries a responsibility far greater than other people. As the last female Blackwood, she must keep the evils in Pandora’s Box from destroying the world.

With the help of her younger brother Silas, the dusk riders, and her best friend Cassandra, she must protect Nightfall Gardens and ensure that the fairy-tale monsters, old gods, and deathly shades stay separated from humanity.

But now, the creatures bound to the Gardens are gaining strength and threatening to break loose. Bemisch, a malevolent witch, has escaped into the mist land to join forces with Eldritch, a powerful nature god. The mysterious Smiling Ladies hold the key to a dark secret from the Blackwood family’s past, and something once again roams the halls of the manor, trying to kill Lily.

Worse yet, her fourteenth birthday is approaching and with it a dangerous rite of passage. Lily must enter the Shadow Garden, home of all that is nightmarish, and come face to face with her most terrifying threat yet.

370 pages, Paperback

First published October 28, 2013

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About the author

Allen Houston

9 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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5 stars
117 (49%)
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94 (39%)
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25 (10%)
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Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,309 reviews3 followers
October 15, 2017
Suffers slightly from middle book syndrome, but still very good. I like how the primary characters evolve and grow, and we learn more about Cassandra (a major secondary character).

The ending definitely has me eager to read the final installment.
Profile Image for Lavender  Sparrow.
251 reviews33 followers
May 13, 2014
Shadow Gardens took off right where Nightfall Gardens left us and it was easy to get right back into the story.

What I loved, the characters are wonderful. I adore Lilly she is a powerful woman held inside a pretty little doll of a girl, what is there not to love? She has grown so much since the first book and has become a brave and strong keeper of the gardens. As for the boys, I have a real crush on Francois he is dark and beautiful and one chapter in this book regarding him broke my heart, Why did that have to happen?! Arfast “the trickster” is adorable as well so cheeky and brave.

This book has the same spooky feel as the first one and I was really hoping to be scared. While I can’t say I’ll be sleeping with the lights on, the smiling Ladies really did chill me. They were so unsettling with there ever present smiles, I was absolutely intrigued by them in the first book and I was really pleased that they played a bigger part in the second.

Silas story with the dusk riders whist it was very good wasn’t as exciting for me as Lily’s and that is because Allen Houston has done such an amazing job at creating a haunted house and spooky garden I never want to leave. When I’m at Disneyland my family always say the Haunted Mansion is my house. I’ve always wanted to walk around in there and look around in the library or search through the attic. So that’s what this book was for me, looking around the ever changing rooms in the mansion with Lily was like exploring the haunted mansion. So while Silas story was really very exciting it took us into the mist village while I just wanted to explore the gardens with him and the house with Lily.

As for the ending it left Silas story on a great cliff hanger but there is no sign of a third book on good reads! There is another one coming right? You can’t just leave us and the Shadow Gardens hanging like that Mr Houston!
Profile Image for Cattie Whaley.
209 reviews1 follower
October 12, 2021
Even more intriguing than Book 1

As we reenter Nightfall Gardens for a second time, we learn more about all the characters that are trying to hold back the darkness. Lily has grown up immensely in this book and I'm glad she has found her strength. I'm enjoying the lore of the creatures we are meeting as well. The story is extremely well written with only a few editorial mistakes (which is tolerable). I am looking forward to Book 3! Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Rob Slaven.
480 reviews53 followers
December 3, 2014
As is very often always the case, I received this book free in exchange for a review. Despite the kindness of receiving a free book I'm absolutely candid about the book because I want everyone to know what they're getting as much as I hope to when I'm shopping.

This book is the second in the Nightfall Gardens series and continues right where the previous book left off. As second books go this one does a good job of keeping you caught up even if you haven't read the first book so going back to #1 isn't an absolute requirement but it will make the whole experience make slightly more sense. The genre for this is dark childhood heroic literature. The protagonists are children who have been ripped away from home and called upon to do some pretty heroic things in a grim setting reminiscent of Lovecraft.

On the positive side, the author certainly does dark very, very well. His characters are uniquely tragic and run the gamut from humanoid slugs to all manner of the usual mythological creatures but with some twist that makes them not just odd, but entirely obscene. Allen's work is refreshing in that it dispenses with all the usual rules about narrative flows giving the reader a break. Starting to feel hopeless and morose and as if things will never work out? Too bad, says Allen. No punches will be pulled. You're going to bloody well suffer until he's rightly and completely done with you. This book could be appropriate for younger readers but they would have to be extremely resilient to the impact of horrific imagery and increasingly graphic violence. The author hasn't absolutely gone too far for 10-12 years but he's danced quite near the edge.

To the negative, Allen's first book was compact and cohesive. There was no room for the mind to wander too far afield and it was very decidedly a book for teens. Shadow Garden seems to tread a bit on the line. The violence has ramped up considerably in spots and it seems that the same amount of narrative movement has been packaged in 25% more pages. I tottered through the first 100 pages rather unmotivated and scattered for four days. It wasn't until I sat down and forced myself to pay attention for the rest of the book that I could find enough of a thread to pull myself through the next 250 pages in a day or so. The subject matter is dark and twisted enough to entertain but has trouble completely grappling with the reader's attention. It's also worth noting that the textual elements tended to suffer as well. I could SWEAR the same conversation between two characters appears in both books and the tendency to drop words entirely seems to become more persistent as the book progresses.

On the whole, however, an exceptional continuation of the series though not nearly as fresh as the first in the trilogy. This is to be expected, however, and I'm bracing myself for a magnificent conclusion in the third book which waits perched on my coffee table seeking my attention.
Profile Image for Amanda White.
147 reviews
August 6, 2016
How this author could come up with some of the things in these books amazes me, what a great imagination he has. This book is just full of things you could never in your life think of. Great book, couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read the next one
Profile Image for Vicki.
284 reviews
March 9, 2014
Personally I wouldn't want to have to live in the Nightfall Gardens!
Profile Image for John Clark.
2,264 reviews25 followers
January 26, 2021
If ever a horror story could be described as delightful, this is it. A seamless segue from the first book, this grabbed me immediately and added me to both the Dusk Riders and the staff at Blackwood so I could feel a part of every scary moment of action. Anyone loving a full-on creepfest should get book one, then dive into this with the third book (I'm 100 pages into that)at hand so they're ready to continue the tale. One of the best middle books I've ever read.
Profile Image for Terri.
286 reviews9 followers
January 9, 2018
A wonderful place?!

The fantastical world of Nightfall Gardens is a place I never want to leave! Lilly is a marvelous girl and I love visiting with her! So glad there is another book! On to the next!
Profile Image for luna.
36 reviews2 followers
January 30, 2023
i unfortunately won't be finishing this one i looooove the premise but i just can't connect with the characters. everyone runs together for me and it doesnt help that more than one characters only description is how white their skin is
Profile Image for Deborah thompson.
78 reviews2 followers
February 24, 2019

Second book in series Still very mysterious and lots of suspense Very well written and excellent author On to the next book
Profile Image for Dana Stricklen.
11 reviews
April 22, 2019
Great read

This series is a Very enticing read. I look forward to finishing out the trilogy. And also looking for more from this autbor
Profile Image for L.
73 reviews1 follower
October 17, 2022
Another good book

The story continues and the plot thickens. The author has developed the story and characters well. Loving the series and can't wait for book 3.
January 2, 2023
I found this book whilst searching for horror. It's an easy read and has kept me engaged. This is the second book and I'm eager to read the 3rd and find out the fate of Nightfall Gardens
Profile Image for Shen Hart.
Author 4 books14 followers
April 20, 2015
This is a masterfully constructed second book in a trilogy. The author skilfully reminds the readers of the story in the previous book, while still continuing to develop the characters, world, and moving the plot forwards. The story itself is two pronged and fits together beautifully; each side of the plot is used to add gravity and impact to the other. The characters are flawed and fantastically real in their emotions, and at no point do they read like little children as so many authors with characters this age do. Altogether, I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys MG fantasy, and I eagerly await the final instalment in this trilogy.

Full Review:

There is great skill involved in writing a sequel, particularly when said sequel is the middle book in a trilogy. It’s very easy, and common, to make it wandering and meaningless. This book is anything but. There is no exposition, rather the book dives straight back into the action and continues on where the previous book left off, while still threading in reminders of what’s gone before.

The plot in this book is certainly two-pronged as it follows the two main characters, and both plots twist and turn so as to keep the reader gripped and eager to read more. The separate plots fit together and each acts to add drama and weight to the other while being able to stand entirely alone if it’s required. The way that the author brings in the romantic sub-plots in this book is beautifully done. The character’s choices in potential partner are not as expected, and the progress of the relationships remains realistic and adds some much needed lightness to the ever-present darkness of this book.

That being said, the darkness is very well crafted with clear-cut intentions and plenty more hidden below the surface. None of the characters, no matter how tertiary, are flat. Each of them has a story to tell, and they do so in a way that compliments and adds something to the plot. With that thought in mind, the times where other characters tell their own stories blends into the plot very well. That can be a sticking point in some books, where said stories are dry and unnecessary, but in this case they flow and add flesh to an ever-increasingly complex plot.

On a technical level, this book shines. There were a few small typos, but nothing to really be concerned with. The entire thing flows from scene to scene, and as mentioned above, both sides of the plot are firmly entwined, which means that there’s no jolt when moving between them. The pacing is exactly as it needs to be with a fantastic crescendo and carefully-constructed ending that wraps up everything it needs to while leaving the reader needing to read the final book.

This book’s, and ultimately the author’s, real strength is in the comparison between the humans and the non-humans, between the darkness and the light. It is in those contrasts and the reminders that no one and nothing is pure one way or the other. The games that are played, the lies and truths that are told add a real depth to the entire story. That means that this book is much more than idle escapism, and it has much to make it appeal to a wide audience.

In summary, this is a very well-constructed book that shines on a number of different levels. The plots are intriguing, complex, and thoroughly entwined in the best possible way. The pacing is superb, and the characters are real with personalities that leap off the page, no matter how large or small a role they play in the book as a whole. The Shadow Garden doesn’t even come close to falling into any of the usual problems found in second books. It’s a very enjoyable read that many people will no doubt enjoy re-reading multiple times. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Stephani.
146 reviews26 followers
January 14, 2014
The Shadow Garden has to be my favorite! it was just packed with more action and adventures and you got more on both Characters of the story and more. I loved the creepy and scary creatures more then the first book. My lights are always on when reading the book…specially when i was home alone..I loved ever minute reading this and was shocked how great the book series ended up being then what i thought. Also i wanted to point how creepy the cover is but perfect all the same. It fits the overall all story of the Shadow gardens.

The beginning starts off with a good start but also heart pounding. you get thrown right from where it leaves off from the last book. Silas and the rest of the group set off in the Shadow Gardens dealing with wolfs and witches. They head off to a village his mother once lived. But was no easy task let me tell you, and geting there wasn’t any better.

And then you get his sister lily in the next chapter. Now i enjoyed her soooo much more then i did in the first book. I had more of connection in this book. and i love her story. lily has grown into something much bigger then the start. I love how she has grown to care for the people in the gardens who did no wrong or has no say. Tho she still has issues with trusting people she should not trust. She grows a bond with Cassandra and they become more then friends but like sisters. She seeks out to find out about the curse and tries to stop it. She becomes more wise then her age while staying in the castle.

I official LOVE Silas and Cassandra. them together make me smile and laugh and cry. Cassandra falls for him even when she tried so hard not to because of her curse. Even when they are separated there feelings grow. when she touches a human they die. Silas has no clue about it and watching her wanting to tell him made my heart break. they will be my ship of all ships…( i gotta stay off Tumblr )

I have grown more attached to lot of the characters in the book even the big meany ones but have grown to love them, and of course you get to meet new characters in the book that i just adored. But not all were good and the scary factor in this book rises then the first book and i wasn’t disappointed at all. The last book i felt like there was something missing and that was the scary and creepy, things that bump in the night. It did have those things but it just wasn’t as scary as i would like, but oh the second book..reach that level i was wanting and i was HIGHLY pleased.

The overall plot and the story with just a little mix of romance was perfect for my taste. I couldn’t find a flaw in this book and it is better then the first book and to me that is rare. I love how the story gets better and better threw out the whole book and the mystery that surrounds it.

Overall i recommend this series. once you get to the 2nd book you will just FALL in love with the story. I’m really happy the Author asked me to read his books. I do not regret at all.
Profile Image for Book Gannet.
1,572 reviews18 followers
March 9, 2015
Well, this was fun. Right from the opening line, this second book of the Nightfall Gardens series is packed with action and grizzly, ghoulish figures. The chapters alternate once more between Lily still trapped in the treacherous house that’s supposed to protect her from the Gardens, but is just as likely to kill her if she isn’t careful, and Silas out travelling in the mists to try and stop the ancient evil Eldritch from regaining power. Since most of the chapters ends in a cliffhanger – especially on Silas’ side – this chopping and changing was as compelling as it was annoying. As such this is a quick read that you won’t want to put down.

This time around Lily is, thankfully, a lot less annoying than in the first book. That’s possibly because she spends a lot of time either alone or with Cassandra, who definitely isn’t the sort to put up with brattish behaviour. Instead Lily is determined to keep searching for Pandora’s Box, while avoiding attempts on her life and keeping up with her sword training. I much prefer this proactive Lily, though I did find her half of the story less interesting than what Silas was up to.

I thought life around the Gardens was tough, but out in the mists it’s even less of a picnic – fun to read about, though. Poor Silas seems a bit lost and overlooked as he travels with his uncle and a couple of mist riders, neither of which are particularly nice. He does his best to keep up and play his part, but on the whole he’s just a nice boy caught up in a terrible situation and coping with it as best he can.

With a creepy, mind-controlling witch on one side and the nightmarish Smiling Ladies on the other, there’s plenty of peril for Silas and Lily once more. Everything does go by pretty swiftly, leaving me sometimes wondering about just why the bonds are breaking down now and why Lily keeps ignoring the various warnings she’s repeatedly given. And even though this book is full of impending doom, once again I never really felt like anything too awful was going to happen, at least not quite yet. There are a few twists, but I tended to be mildly surprised by them rather than shocked. One half of the story ends on a decided cliffhanger too, but at least the third book's out already so you don’t have to wait to read more.

A good continuation of this dark tale. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, you might get a little lost here. The plot moves relentlessly forward with only a few references to what happened in the last book – which is great for returning readers, less so for newcomers. I definitely don’t recommend starting here, but if you read the first one I definitely recommend returning. There’s something darkly compelling about Nightfall Gardens – I look forward to reading the finale soon.

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Tricia.
664 reviews24 followers
February 4, 2015
4.5 stars

The Shadow Garden is the second installment in the Nightfall Gardens series. You can see our review for the first book, NIghtfall Gardens here....


Everything that I loved about the first book, was still present in this addition. The setting is really the most intriguing thing about this story to me! I love this dangerous, magical place that Houston has created. And I really enjoyed getting to see further into it, the Shadow Garden is a terrifying place, but I couldn't look away! In Lily traveling there we also got to see some huge character development with her. The most frightening thing about the Shadow Garden might have been it's way of looking deep into a person's soul and using every desire, fear, hope and worry against you.

"Every lie, every sin, every foul or petty thought preys on a person's mind. It grows and spreads like a cancer that consumes the soul."

It was quite a journey Lily went through there, and I've grown to really like her, I couldn't help but to root for her to pull through and come out of this situation stronger than ever.

I also enjoyed Silas's journey into the mist! We got to meet a few new friends, as well as a few new chilling adversaries. As you know so far, the night itself is something to be feared in Nightfall Gardens, and we get up close and personal with some of it's worst inhabitants in this book. I was glad to see some glimpses of hope and light amidst the seemingly all encompassing dark of the night. It was nice to be reminded that goodness has a strong power too, which is something easily forgotten in this bleak place.

The alternating POV's between Lily and Silas are perfect for this story. Each of them have equally interesting voices, and stories to tell. I was happy to see the character depth that I was hoping for in this addition. It was just what I wanted, and it took this story overall up a notch in my opinion, because I now feel emotionally invested in these characters and their outcomes. I really look forward to seeing what the next book, The Labyrinth, has to bring!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
884 reviews252 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 loved Nightfall Gardens, so I was quite happen to get into the next book right away!

This book takes place right where Nightfall Gardens left off. Lily is now the protector of the gardens and most prevent the terrors inside from unleashing into the world. Though, she's not alone. She has her brother, Sila, and her best friend, Cassandra, along with others to help her. Now the siblings and friends are finding more and more dangerous secrets about the gardens and their home. Even worse, her 14th birthday is coming closer and she has to face the Smiling Sisters in the Shadow Gardens. A challenge that many of her ancestors did not survive.

Many of my thoughts of the first book continue with this book.This book series is still incredibly imaginative and, again, love the world-building! What I really loved about this book is how we get more information about the gardens ans the creatures! We got a whole bunch of information, that I loved, in the first book. but with this book being focused strongly on one of the gardens, I felt like I was getting do much more info and it was absolutely interesting! Although, I have to say this: this series is still very very dark, and I loved it. Of course.

I loved the characters in the first book, but in this book I see this grow so much more. It's sad, how they are changing, due to the circumstances, but I loved how strong these characters become. Lily, who was described as vain in Nightfall Gardens, has changed so much since the beginning! She has to change, and I hate that, but she has become so strong! Silas is the same way! I also need to mention Cassandra! She's such a great friend!

I am loving this series! It's such a dark, gothic, gory series, and I love it! While this was the 2nd book it a trilogy, it had no middle-book syndrome whatever and I am definitely looking forward to the conclusion!
Profile Image for Sarah-Jayne Briggs.
Author 1 book47 followers
August 8, 2015
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).

(This review may contain spoilers).

Having read the first book in this trilogy, I was glad to have the opportunity to read the other two.

It was good to be able to see both Lily and Silas' adventures running separately. The crypt with the bodies of Lily's ancestors was particularly creepy to read about. While the bodies there made sense by the end of this book, they were still really creepy... even though I couldn't help but feel sorry for the women.

Although Jonquil didn't seem very sympathetic in the first book, I thought he had a lot more depth to him in this book... even though I think his story should have been told more as a flashback than in italics as he explained things to Silas.

I would have liked to see more of Jonquil's relationship with Thomas. I couldn't help feeling a lot of sympathy for the family who were forced to guard the gardens. I felt that Lily's strength of character came through especially well towards the end.

I don't think Silas was as observant as he could have been, but it was good to see him connecting emotionally with Mirabella. I liked seeing more of Cassandra in this book, too, and having the opportunity to learn more about her history.

There's a lot about the gardens and the house that's downright disturbing. Being able to see more of the mythos of the garden was cool... and I liked being able to see a glimpse of the labyrinth. The smiling ladies are creepy... but I found my interest piqued by Villion. There were a lot of elements of mystery about him that made him an intriguing character.

There is an air of mystery through this second book, even though a couple of the twists are quite clear. It was good to see more of the mist people, even despite what was revealed when the Dusk Riders were there.

I would have liked to see more of the history of some of those trapped in the gardens. Some of the monsters have good parts to them... but a lot of them come across as pure evil, which means they're not well-rounded like the more interesting villains.

I have the final book in the trilogy on my Kindle and I intend to read it in the near future.
Profile Image for Bruce Gargoyle.
874 reviews144 followers
January 31, 2015
4.5 stars

Ten Second Synopsis:
Lily and Silas are both drawn into dangerous territory as Lily prepares to face the horrors of the Shadow Garden and Silas defends his mind against the dark powers of an ancient evil.

This book was again divided into chapters alternating in viewpoint between Lily, as she attempts to figure out how to survive her rite of passage in the Shadow Garden, and Silas, as he and his dusk rider friends become entangled in a deadly mission to rescue some villagers from the evil deity Eldritch and his witch Bemisch. I really enjoyed the alternating viewpoints because there was so much action and intrigue in this helping that it was good to have a break every chapter and jump between the various dangers being faced by the siblings.

The Shadow Garden moved a lot more quickly than Nightfall Gardens and I was far more engaged emotionally with the characters in this offering. We get to find out a lot more about other minor characters also, with some focus being placed on Cassandra, Jonquil, Villon and others which was a nice expansion to the main event.

My favourite part of this story was Lily’s trial in the Shadow Garden itself (and an unexpected meeting with one of Polly’s relations!). The narrative at this point reminded me so strongly of the sacrifice of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as Houston describes all the vile and vicious and just plain bizarre creatures that inhabit the part of Nightfall Gardens that is home to the incarnation of human nightmares.

This was my favourite of the three books and a real step up for Houston in terms of the tightness and pacing of the plot.
May 26, 2019
Well, how was it?
This one suffered only a little from "middle book" syndrome. Definitely darker than the first. We get deeper into the backstory of the house and the Gardens. It splits scenes between Lily at the house and Silas out with the riders in the mist, which annoys me while reading, but that's just my personal quirk.

Read more at Cats Luv Coffee
Profile Image for T.M.B.A. Corbett.
167 reviews36 followers
February 19, 2015
Check out my review for Book 1 in this series and to enter other book Giveaways Go here!
Here is the thing about lovely dark descriptive books....they just get better in a series!
I love book series and feel that lately the first book in the series is good but never as good as the sequels. The Shadow Garden grows so effortlessly from the first book. I love the characters and their growth from book one. The story is even better than the first and will keep even Adults glued to this book until it is finished! Just like the first one this book is so descriptive and creates a dark and very imaginative story that leaps of the page. I truly loved this book and series so far, Thankfully I have the third book to start reading immediately!
Everyone needs to read this book series! Honestly why hasn't this series been read by more people!
This really upsets me cause these books are sooooooo ggooooooodddddd!
Profile Image for Frank Sentner.
2 reviews1 follower
July 26, 2014
Even better than the first in this series. Can't wait for the third book!
Profile Image for Desertorum.
481 reviews24 followers
April 1, 2015
I truly enjoy this serie even though I think it´s probably most enjoyable read as a teenager. Fast paced, no dull moments and fun characters.
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews

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