Book Review: Caitlin Kittredge’s The Nightmare Garden

Posted April 17, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Caitlin Kittredge’s The Nightmare Garden

The Nightmare Garden


Caitlin Kittredge

steampunk that was published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on February 14, 2012 and has 417 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Corsets & Clockwork, Street Magic, Demon Bound, Bone Gods, Night Life, Huntress, The Iron Thorn, "The Curse of Four", The Wild Side: Urban Fantasy with an Erotic Edge, Devil's Business, Soul Trade, Mirrored Shard, Dark Days, Black and White, Games Creatures Play

Second in the Iron Codex steampunk series for young adults.

My Take

I’m half and half on this. Kittredge wrote a great story, but Aoife drove me nuts. She is such a typical charge-in-and-pay-no-attention-to-the-consequences kid. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smack her or shoot her. She keeps charging into situations just to satisfy her own needs. She whines. Omigod, she whines on and on. Dork. She rushes off to rescue her mom without any planning. She runs away to find the Brotherhood of Iron and pays no attention to the signs that practically scream stay away when she gets to Innsbrook. I think her dad is as much of a jerk as her brother. Honestly, the only two I like in this series are Dean and Cal. And Dean is the most decent one in this.

I just don’t buy the reasoning Archie Grayson has for abandoning his children. For not telling them why they go nuts at 16. If Archie knows that Nerissa has fae blood and she’s allergic to the iron in the cities, why doesn’t he get Nerissa out of the city???

I hate Aoife. She whines on and on about how she shouldn’t have listened to Tremaine. That he lied to her. So now she decides she can fix things by ignoring what Crow tells her because he’s “too scared to see clearly”? A-n-d…on what authority is she basing this decision?? And she just has to make the choice? I’d like to “choice” her!

I did like the lanternreel of nightmares Aoife endured as she saw what scared her friends and family the most. Lame ending…no, I’m not talking about it as it might ruin it for you…

The Story

At the end of Iron Thorn, the Winter Folk are coming to Graystone to take Cal, Aoithe, Dean, and Bethina, but Conrad shows up with the People of the Mist to rescue them and take them into the land of the Erlkin. Only. There’s a problem. Seems Conrad isn’t too welcome. No one with fae blood is particularly welcome. Fortunately, an attack provides an opportunity for the four of them to escape. Even more for Aoife to escape into dreams, into nightmares.

A world that seems both too real and too fantastic and yet one that holds truth for Aoife. Then there’s another kind of truth that Aoife finds back in Lovecraft. A new name. A rescue. Family members she doesn’t want to know.

Too impatient, too untrusting…for which she does have reason…Aoife runs. She believes the Brotherhood is her only chance to set things right. It doesn’t matter what anyone says. It only matters what Aoife wants.

The Characters

Aoife Grayson and her brother Conrad are practically orphans what with their mother in the nuthouse. But we learned in Iron Thorn, 1 that it’s not a virus that haunts them, that makes them go crazy when they turn sixteen. And it seems that Aoife is the one who will be the new Gateminder…

Archibald Grayson is her father and the fourteenth Gateminder. And he came to Aoife’s rescue when Draven imprisoned her. It seems he’ll rescue her again and again… Nerissa is their mother. Their insane mother. Valentina Crosley is Dad’s girlfriend. Her father is Harold Crosley, a member of the Brotherhood of Iron. Turns out the Casey who helped in Lovecraft is an agent of the Brotherhood. A very unhappy one.

Calvin Daulton, a.k.a., Carver, is really a ghoul! Aoife learned that Cal was only her friend because Draven forced him to spy on Conrad and Aoithe to save his own family. Bethina is the maid left behind at Graystone. She’s terrified of everything but desperate not to be alone — and she’s in love with the Cal she believes is human. Dean Harrison, a.k.a., Nails, is half-Erlkin with magic of his own, and he’ll do anything for Aoife. Skip is a childhood Erlkin friend of Dean’s. Not so much anymore. Shard is Dean’s mother. She’s also captain of Windhaven.

Grey Draven was the Head of the City and still plans to use Aoife to lure her father in. Only, he’s managed to turn the disaster of the engine being destroyed into a plus for him, getting himself more power and is now in charge of the Proctors, a type of policeman and guard combined. Tremaine is the Regent for the Winter Lands who lies, and doesn’t care what he must do to get Aoithe to break the spell Grey Draven put on the Queens of Summer and Winter so the Thorn Land will live again. Octavia is the Queen of Winter with some huge secrets and a deal to broker with Aoife.

Captain Rasputina Yelena Ivanova takes Aoife north in her submarine, the Oktobriana. Jakob is a fae spy planted by Tremaine. Crow is the man in her dreams. The one who keeps back the Great Old Ones.

The Crimson Guard were German witches and the enemy in the war. The Kindly Folk are the elves, fairies, Seelie and Unseelie; those who met with the Gateminder. The Erlkin are looked down upon by the Kindly Folk, considered slaves. Ruled by the Wytch King, they are also called the People of the Mists.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark, but in a warm way even as snow falls softly around Aoithe. A slightly thorny bit of wrought iron scrollwork encompasses the title.

The Nightmare Garden would be more appropriate as the nightmare clock since that’s what this story is all about. Although, I suppose I am just a mite too unimaginative and Kittredge could be referring to all of Aoife’s nightmares growing a garden of thoughts and ideas in Aoife’s head. Stupid ones…