Thursday, 25 September 2014

Review: The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

Nestled in the bucolic town of Green Valley in upstate New York, the Pennywort farm appears ordinary, yet at its center lies something remarkable: a wild maze of colorful gardens that reaches beyond the imagination. Local legend says that a visitor can gain answers to life’s most difficult problems simply by walking through its lush corridors.

Yet the labyrinth has never helped Olivia Pennywort, the garden’s beautiful and enigmatic caretaker. She has spent her entire life on her family’s land, harboring a secret that forces her to keep everyone at arm’s length. But when her childhood best friend, Sam Van Winkle, returns to the valley, Olivia begins to question her safe, isolated world and wonders if she at last has the courage to let someone in. As she and Sam reconnect, Olivia faces a difficult question: Is the garden maze that she has nurtured all of her life a safe haven or a prison?

ebook, 352 pages
Expected publication: October 7th 2014 by Ballantine Books 
Genre: Magical Realism

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Ballantine Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I was intrigued when I read the synopsis for this book but it did not fully describe what this book is about. When I discovered what Olivia's secret was I became excited and prepared myself for a truly great read.

Although the premise of the book was outstanding, the story fell a little flat making it an average to good read when I felt it could have been spectacular. I'm not sure if I can pin point exactly why I felt this way but I'll try.

I found the first half of the book a little slow and hard to get into. It did improve and the second half held my attention and interest significantly more. If I were rating this book on the first half alone it would be lower and on the second half it would be slightly higher. I think the biggest problem I had was in connecting with Olivia and Sam as well as the conflict resolution. Their issues were so profound that I wanted to feel their struggle and attraction for each other but I just didn't. I wanted to feel the emotion, the love, the passion and the heartache that their problem caused. It just wasn't quite there. In fact, their first moment in the water should have given me goosebumps and instead I felt nothing.

I don't want to give the impression that I hated the book because I didn't but I was hoping for a little more. It was an average read that I enjoyed but I probably won't remember it in a couple of months time. I truly did like what the story was about and feel that with a little more work it could have been amazing.

I will be sure to read more from Lisa Van Allen because I do enjoy a little magical realism once in a while and I think that she shows some great potential.


  1. I hate when the cover looks good, only to have a story that has no fizz. LOL, that and slow to get into means I put it down and start another. I hate doing that, having to go back and forth, and get resentful over the slow start one.

    Guy Vestal @ Counter Culture Critic

  2. Oh I was excited after reading the synopsis too! But after reading your review, I don't think I'll read this book... Great Review! Looking forward to more by you :)
    Book Maniac Reviews