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The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge

The Nightmare Garden

by Caitlin Kittredge

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898135,585 (3.77)2



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I received this book to review from Netgalley. I have not read the first installment, but as it happened, it wasn't really necessary. "The Nightmare Garden" was written in such a way, that a new reader, who has no idea what she's got in her hands - what world she's entering - would have no problem to follow the story. I sure did, you would too if you like a mix of steampunk, paranormal, dystopian kind of thing that has a tinny tiny flavor of romance underneath all the drama.

Well, unfortunately, for the time from 33% to 80% the story got so boring, I was a second away from putting it down and just dismissing it. I was totally ready to do it, but decided against it out of respect for the author who put so much time and effort into writing this story. Instead, what I did was skip around and read just the dialogues and some of the descriptions. It's unbelievable how good it felt to read it this way. No tedious explanations that repeated themselves, no descriptions that went beyond the necessary... And then at 80% the action, tension and drama picked up, and with them so did my interest. It's why I gave it the 3 star rating.

I was annoyed by the repetitive explaining of the main character, Aoife, how terrible she felt for leaving her mother in Lovecraft. That happened at least once every couple of pages, and after the first several times, I got tired of it. Then Aoife was saying how much regret she felt for ever trusting the Fae Tremaine, but she did it again and oh, how terrible she felt!!!

Also, there was so much telling, that the showing kind of got lost somewhere in between the lines. So, me skipping around was kind of helpful. And with reading so little of the overbearing descriptions, I was still well aware of what and where was going on. So why make a novel so unbearably heavy with needless narrative?

I don't think I liked Aoife. She felt superficial and lost in herself for the better part of the book. She didn't really care what anyone else around her felt like or thought. The only important thing to her was... well... herself. Her feelings, her inner turmoils... It was too much.

And Dean, her Erlkin boyfriend, never got angry at her even though she had to be yelled at at least half the time. It was unnatural, like he was a toy and he had to be played.

Conrad, her brother was more with his wits than Aoife wanted to portray. He saw things in their real image, he saw what was right and did it. I can say that I liked that guy.

I don't think I will recommend this book to my friends, seeing that it was too long for its own good. One must really be into extensive descriptions to like The Nightmare Garden. ( )
  VanyaDrum | Jan 26, 2014 |
Much more fast paced than book 1. Recommended for readers wanting great world building, adventure, and some romance. Twist on steampunk and dark fantasy. ( )
  LaneLiterati | Apr 28, 2013 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: An improvement on the first installment, creepy and fast paced, but our heroine is still whiney and I’m still not impressed with anything but the world-building.

Opening Sentence: In my dream, I am alone.

The Review:

If you read the synopsis, you’ve already spoiled yourself for The Iron Codex, but reading this review will make it worse! If you haven’t read book one, you don’t need to read this review yet. SPOILERS AHEAD.

This sequel picks up where The Iron Thorn left off, with Conrad swooping in with the People of the Mist to rescue our Fantastic Four — Cal, Aoife, Dean, and Bethina, from the Winter Folk. Except, no one with Fae blood is welcome with the Mist people and Aoife’s new-found blood ties to the Land of Thorn mean they have to run. A fugitive in the Mists—which lie between the Land of Thorn and the Iron Land, Aoife wants to return home, save her mother, and fix basically everything she did in The Iron Thorn. Destroying the Lovecraft Machine has ruined everything, destroyed everything Aoife cared about. But Grey Draven, who wants Aoife’s father Archibald Grayson the way Voldemort wanted Harry, and Tremaine are still hunting them. To set everything right, Aoife needs to find the Nightmare Clock, which has plagued her dreams and lead her to the Artic Circle.

Hands down, my favorite thing about Kittredge’s series is the world-building. We have the Protectors, the Brotherhood, The Crimson Guard, the Crimson Guard — someone want to explain to me how Germans always end up on the wrong side of literary wars? The Kindly Folk, the Erlkin — and so on and so forth. I thought The Iron Codex was intense, but clearly Kittredge has been saving some great backstory. It’s creepy and beautiful and everything fantastical comes out sounding organic. Everything feels real. We get to ride on a submarine in this novel! It’s got much better pacing than book one.

There are, however, things I hated. Like Archibald Grayson’s reason for abandoning his children and wife. Like Aiofe’s whining and general lack of concern for the consequences. Her brother’s a total jerk — though I think that’s just a character aspect, he and Dean have some hysterical arguments. Dean stood by Aoife even when she made really stupid decisions — and I do mean “stood by.” Their relationship took a hiatus in this novel, as its focus is mostly on Aoife. Still, majorly disappointing for all us shippers who wanted some steamy scenes! Bethina’s character didn’t develop at all, despite the lovely romance we have blooming between her and Cal.

But the worst was the plot. While The Mightmare Garden skips over Middle Book Syndrome, I was thrown by where the story headed. Capture, escape, capture, escape — I need more than that from a plotline. It wasn’t until the very end it came together and made sense to me — while I could guess what the ending would be, I had nothing to base that on but past novels I’ve read. It’s a cliffhanger that totally got me excited for book three!

Hopefully, the final novel in the Iron Codex Trilogy will have some maturity development for Aoife, who’s now annoyed me in both novels. Kittredge’s writing style is very heavy on the details — in a lot of places it felt over-edited and over-done. I love the creeptastic Mist scenes and how dark the fantasy/steampunk aspects are, but for the most part I found myself skimming over the exposition and description infodumps.

If you got through The Iron Thorn, you’ll probably like this sequel even more, but it’s not a series I go out of my way to recommend.

Notable Scene:

“You have a choice, Erlkin,” Draven’s voice purred. “It’s an easy one. Give me Aoife Grayson or I blow that floating scrap heap out of the sky.”

I backed toward the door, desperate to get away from Draven’s voice and the view of his great dark shadow of an airship. If I couldn’t see or hear him, I could pretend this wasn’t happening. Shard wasn’t paying attention to me now. She was screaming orders, and her crew was scrambling to obey.

“I guess you’ve made your choice,” Draven said. “Too bad.” With that, tracers of orange fire streaked across the distance between the zeppelin and Windhaven. One shell shot through the glass of the pilothouse and embedded itself in the far wall. Wind screamed through the opening, and cracks like spiderwebs spread from the hole. Windhaven appeared to be well armored, but Draven’s gunners had been lucky, and the glass fell away in jagged slices as the negative pressure fought with the bullet holes.

“Return fire!” Shard bellowed. “Don’t let them get another shot like that!”

I bumped into the hatch and reached behind me to spin the wheel. My heart was hammering in time with the rounds from the Gatling guns on Draven’s airship.

FTC Advisory: Delacorte Books for Young Readers/Random House provided me with a copy of The Nightmare Garden. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Apr 12, 2013 |
Thoughts: This was an okay read. There seems to be a theme for taking the fairy world and adding an iron twist. As I was reading, I was reminded of Kagawa's Iron Fey series. However, Kittredge has taken it to another level by implementing a dystopian, steam punk feel to this work. In the previous book, Aoife has destroyed the home that she once knew and now is on the run from those that want to use her for personal gain. Aoife is a frustrating, stubborn and strong-willed character, who is easily tricked into doing things. Apparently, she didn't learn her lesson from the last book and should think harder before making rash decisions. My favorite character in this story is surprisingly one of the villains, Tremaine, devious and crafty; he is always one step ahead of Aoife. No matter how many times she thinks she has thwarted his plans, he just switches his angle and comes up with a new avenue that is a satisfactory channel to getting closer to what he desires. Have to love a cunning and calculating villain.

In this book, the major problem that Aoife must face is finding the nightmare clock in order to reverse the mess she has made and to find the mother she left behind. She is willing to do anything to make this happen and this is where she messes up. There is always a consequence and Aoife may just end up paying more than she bargained for. The pace was faster than the first book but still slow. Aoife is a hard to character to connect with as she is so misguided, naive and impulsively focused on the end rather than the individual steps to get to that point.

The characters and plot are more fleshed out but I still feel like that spark is missing to truly ignite a magical connection for me. It’s a good story, though; Kittredge has done a fantastic job of creating this world, which makes it visually appealing in the minds’ eye. I wasn't prepared for that ending, interesting surprise! This book gives a better understanding of what or better yet who Aoife is but the questions still remains…what is her purpose? ( )
  lilcrickit | Jul 5, 2012 |
Everything Aoife thought she knew about the world was a lie. There is no Necrovirus. And Aoife isn't going to succumb to madness because of a latent strain—she will lose her faculties because she is allergic to iron. Aoife isn't human. She is a changeling—half human and half from the land of Thorn. And time is running out for her.

When Aoife destroyed the Lovecraft engine she released the monsters from the Thorn Lands into the Iron Lands and now she must find a way to seal the gates and reverse the destruction she's ravaged on the world that's about to poison her.


This book is the sequel to the amazing first book "The Iron Thorn". I gotta say it's as good as the first. What I really liked about the first was that it was a dystopia mixed in with a bit of fantasy. There's otherworldly creatures, Magic or Weirds, and strange creatures called the Fae.

I was a little confused at first but that was because it's been a year since I've read The Iron Thorn. But after a while it didn't matter, I found the story line again. At first they are in the Mist world dealing with the harsh Elrkin. You meet a surprising character here. After that the story just goes to Draven trying to capture Aoife, Dean, and the others. In the middle of the story we find out more about her father and a secret about Conrad.

The most upsetting for me was the ending. It wasn't bad, it was really well written. It just made me sad. Reading the end made the waterworks fire up! But the good thing about it is that it leads into another book. There's no way on earth Kittredge could not write a third book. As for me.....I can't wait to read it! I know that it'll follow the other two and be just as amazing! 4/5! ( )
  rach2340 | Jun 25, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385738315, Hardcover)

Everything Aoife thought she knew about the world was a lie. There is no Necrovirus. And Aoife isn't going to succomb to madness because of a latent strain—she will lose her faculties because she is allergic to iron. Aoife isn't human. She is a changeling—half human and half from the land of Thorn. And time is running out for her.

When Aoife destroyed the Lovecraft engine she released the monsters from the Thorn Lands into the Iron Lands and now she must find a way to seal the gates and reverse the destruction she's ravaged on the world that's about to poison her.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Aoife Grayson continues to discover hidden secrets about herself as she journeys to find the Nightmare Clock, fix the gates she's broken, and save her missing mother"--

» see all 2 descriptions

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