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The Nightmare Garden (Iron Codex) Paperback – 12 Feb 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 417 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (12 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738323
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 2.4 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,506,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Caitlin Kittredge lives in Washington and is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. Visit her at www.caitlinkittredge.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Leanne Bell on 22 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book, I really really did. But why oh why the cliffhanger ending?! Maybe I'm feeling particularly sensitive at the moment, but when I have to wait ages to find out the outcome of a Trilogy I get a wee bit agitated with cliffhangers.*bangs head on sofa in frustration*
Right, feeling more sensible now :) On a more serious note though, that is not the reason it didn't get a perfect score.

I seem to differ from the majority of reviews on this book, in the way that I preferred The Iron Thorn more than The Nightmare Garden. In some ways, this was the better novel, there was less explanation and new terminology and the world made sense more this time around. On the other hand, for the length of the novel not as much seemed to happen and I found my self confused by several events as to where they were going. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but a book this length is a long time to be confused (This is just my opinion though, so it may just be me that had this issue)

On a brighter note, it was great to be reading about Aiofe and co and though there is a heart-stopping cliffhanger and some tear-jerking moments I was pretty pleased with the ending overall, though I am currently bouncing like a loony waiting for The Mirrored Shard to be released.
I must also add that in a world filled with faerie stories and steampunk it takes someone special to write a book that stands out with this amount of originality and Ms Kittredge has achieved that with this series and managed to capture the imagination of a 20 something woman who thought she'd read all variations on Faerie (so thanks for proving me wrong!)

As an aside...isn't the cover stunning too? Wow! :)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 21 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Just as overstuffed and frustrating--yet readable--as The Iron Thorn 25 Feb 2012
By Ashleigh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.

The Engine is destroyed, monsters and Fae can freely travel through the Gates to the Iron Land, and Aoife is on the run after a series of revelations about who she is. As she runs with her friends from both the Proctors, led by the monstrous Grey Draven, and Tremaine, who doesn't appear to be finished with her yet, the iron that drove her mother and brother insane starts to take its toll on her mind. Aoife sees only one way to fix everything she has done wrong: finding the nightmare clock and setting back time to keep it all from happening. But getting to the clock will be difficult and more than a few people will do whatever they can to keep her from it.

Aoife spent most of the book frustrating me and making me wish I could kick her. This appears to be a Kittredge specialty; I read all five of her Nocturne City books and rare were moments I didn't want to throw a barefoot Luna into an endless sea of Legos. She spends most of the book going "I can fix this! We just have to turn back time" and it strikes me as inconsistent characterization for her to be so naive and cling to that idea considering the life she has lived and what she has been through. She remains difficult to like, though it is understandable in certain ways, and the way her creeping insanity wormed its way into the narrative occasionally was perfect.

Cal and Dean, both central characters in the first book, fade into the background this time around, Cal moreso than Dean. As much as I would have liked to see Bethina developed beyond her role as Cal's love interest and Archie's maid, we learned nothing more about her. The connections Aoife had with her brother (who is, for the record, a high-level jerk), dad, and (for all intents and purposes) stepmother Valentina were tenuous at the best of times but nevertheless written well. But what was up with Valentina talking to someone suspiciously and that possible plot thread being dropped just like that?

The Nightmare Garden does improve on a few of the flaws of The Iron Thorn by speeding up the pacing and smoothing out some of the writing, but it still feels overwritten more often than I would like and lines like "I pulled out a handful of Valentina's hair curlers out of the bag and, using a careful, delicate touch, shoved them one by one between all the circuits (The Nightmare Garden, ARC p. 242)" make me raise an eyebrow. Nevertheless, this book easily evaded the Middle Book Slump and kept me entertained the entire time.

The shocking ending and the cliffhanger that goes with it hooked me for the final book of the trilogy, and I hope for Aoife to demonstrate more maturity than she has in the last two books. This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but the twist at the end of the book? I hope Aoife doesn't end up fixing it. Leaving it as is opens a new, more exciting door for her as a character than the door she would go through while trying to "fix" the twist. Once you read the book and figure out what I'm talking about, you'll know what I mean and probably hate me for it. Fans of the first book will certainly enjoy The Nightmare Garden just as much.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Only slightly better than the last :/ 9 April 2012
By CRISTY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN, book 2 of the Iron Codex trilogy was better than the first, no doubt about that, but honestly I still can't declare my love for this over complicated and painfully drawn out steampunk, dystopian fairy tale. I am ever so thankful to Kittredge for the slightly better pacing with this installment, but must state that even with the continued originality in the storyline; she failed to really grab me with the characters themselves. I still liked our heroin Aoife, but that was pretty much it; I liked most of the characters, equally and not really beyond that. I didn't care about them, even in the life and death situations I wasn't... I don't know, how do I put this?...I guess I wasn't "moved" by anyone or really anything. THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN, (both of the Iron Codex books really) are kinda creepy and cool and definitely unique stories...but that therein lies my issue with them, they are just that, dark stories, nothing more, nothing less. And after 900+ pages between the two books, I suppose I just expected more. More love for the characters, more emotion, more excitement, more explanations, just well... more. But with THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN you do get, yes a bit more action and a few answers, but mostly you just get more questions; which is not the kind of more I was hoping for. In the end I was once again left torn and slightly frustrated. There is so much potential in the bones of this series, that it pains me not to like it, well...for lack of a better word, more. I'm crossing my fingers hat Kittredge will pull it all together and make it all worth it in the final book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as the first one 20 Feb 2012
By Nori (Nori's Closet) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
So, I recently reviewed the first book in the Iron Codex Series: The Iron Thorn, and I really loved the world Caitlin Kittredge created. I got this one (the sequel) courtesy of Random House Children's Books on NetGalley. And I was so excited to continue with this story.

If you haven't read the first book yet, be warned that I am about to spoil things. This book begins with Aoife, Dean, Cal, Conrad, Aoife's father and the father's girlfriend holed up in the girlfriend's family home. Everyone in Aoife's life is determined to keep Aoife safe for the time being, to train her on how to use her weird better, and to better prepare her for some tough times ahead. Aoife can't stop thinking about what she did with the gates and how now all the creatures from one land are entering another land.

She also can't stop blaming herself for leaving her mad mother behind. And despite the warnings of everyone she has ever cared about, she decides to go back toward Lovecraft, where she is famous for being the destroyer. She did destroy the engine, and practically decimate a whole city. Proctors know what she looks like and are searching for her. But, she decides to go any way. She fights monsters, meets new friends, gets captured (several times by different bad guys), gets put on various missions (one per bad guy), and learns a lot about the creation of her world and how the universe works, and even how time works.

The explanations for her universe and for time, and their connection to one man/creature was a little vague and confusing, yet so, so fascinating! I loved the whole concept of the old ones, and how the one gate was connected with dreams. And I liked that a lot was left for the reader to figure out about this. The one thing Kittredge really mastered above all else was creating this world!

Aoife's ultimate mission (the one she decides to do herself), is to find the machine that can turn back time, so she can stop herself from ever destroying the engine and leaving her mother behind. But, nothing is ever as simple as turning back time. And between her deals to the fey to hand herself (and her mother) over to them, her deals with the proctors to destroy a brotherhood against them in order to get Dean back, and a narrow escape of the only people who ever cared about her, Aoife has a lot going on and a lot to think about in this book. I loved seeing the Winter Court! And all the scenes on the submarine were so cool!

I did not like this book as much as the first one. It took me over a week to read this one, when normally a book like this is finished in a matter of a day or two. I feel like the world was just as interesting. And the story definitely had a lot of twists and turns. It was the characters that were kind of not as interesting to me any more. To start with, my favorite character, Dean, was only in about half of it. And while I love how brave and strong Aoife is, I couldn't help but think about the many ridiculously poor decisions she continued to make, even after all the mistakes made in book one. A) A character needs to grow throughout the series. And B) So many comments are made on her intelligence; yet, I couldn't help but think how rather un-intelligent she was, making rash, dangerous decisions, without any regard for her life and safety, along with the well-being of others. In a way, she kind of reminded me of a certain boy wizard.

I get that she had a tough life with her brother before. Though, we only technically get to witness one scene of her past life that demonstrates this. I would have liked to have seen more of that because then I might have felt more empathy toward Aoife and her brother. But, even with this assumed tragic past, she was way too worried about her mother! Everyone was telling her that her mother was a survivor. Her mother survived the mad house for years. And she survived living in a world of iron. Why was the possible destruction of the world along with the possible destruction of all the worlds in the universe worth risking to save her crazy mom, who'd most likely survive any way?!? I really did not get Aoife's motives. And I certainly lost most of the respect I had left for her for doing this. I mean her mother wasn't even a real mother to her. She grew up in foster care as a ward of the state! Why was her mother worth everything? And why couldn't she have learned anything from her past mistakes?

The story is good. The world is unbelievably good. I just wish the characters were more realistic and or easier to care about, especially the main character. I give this one a 7/10, and it really would have gotten a 10/10 if not for the lack of character development and growth.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Effie's nightmare 14 Jun 2014
By E.J. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I tried. Really, I did. But I just couldn't do it. I liked "The Iron Thorn", this book's predecessor, but this one fell flat. No, more than that - it fell off a ten-story building and got run over by a car down below.

Let me show you what I mean. Basic plot summary: Our heroine, Aoife, and a group of her friends are running from the Proctors back in the Iron Land after Aoife destroyed Lovecraft's great Engine (which was a mistake, but that doesn't mean the Proctors have to have hard feelings about it). After wandering around the Thorn Land for a while, meeting Dean's Erlkin folks, and sort of going back to the Iron Land (Aoife decided that even though thousands of lives are at stake, she's just got to rescue her already-insane mother), the fugitives are picked up by Aoife's dad and his pretty young girlfriend, Valentina. After a few days of Valentina trying to be Aoife's new mom and her brother Conrad acting like a baby because he's not in control of the expedition anymore, Aoife's fed up. She's been having these dreams about a "nightmare clock" that might allow her to time travel (so she can save her crazy mother! Because that's the MOST IMPORTANT THING she could be doing right now! And time travel is totally ethical and safe!) Her dad and Valentina won't allow her to go, so like any self-respecting heroine, she sneaks out with her friends. But (surprise, surprise) it may not be exactly what she thought.

I know I'm being harsh. I don't disagree with Aoife's determination to save her mother. Family is family, no matter how nutty. But the author shouldn't have put the entire plot on hold so that a crazy woman could be saved. And yeah, I also get that Aoife wanted to undo the damage she did with the Engine, but why wasn't there any kind of discussion about what time travel could do to the present? Isn't that normally a huge concern? And I'm not even sure that the clock dealt with time travel alone. The explanation was too vague for me to make sense of that.

In fact, the writing style in general was annoying. It wasn't exactly flowery, but there were a lot of superfluous words. I stopped counting the number of times that Aoife said, "In that moment . . ." or "It was the worst pain I'd ever felt" or "That Aoife Grayson no longer exists. THIS Aoife Grayson . . ." The style didn't bother me in "Thorn", but I'm not sure if that's because it got worse or because I didn't notice it as much.

And then there were the characters. Aoife was the biggest disappointment, since I liked her so much in "Iron Thorn". She's a rebel without a cause, defying anyone and everyone and not accomplishing anything. She'd decide she liked a character on one page only to stab him/her in the back on another. Conrad was a jerk, plain and simple. He spent most of the book either sulking because Aoife wanted to change his plans or toadying up to Archie and Valentina. As for Cal . . . Cal who? He was never my favorite person, but he has no plotlines other than his rapidly escalating romance with Bethina and whether he should tell her that he's, you know, not human. And Bethina - come on, Bethina, how stupid can you be? You're running with your friends into an alternate universe that you've never heard of and the government is chasing your friend for suspicious reasons that no one will explain to you, and you still don't suspect anything? Aoife keeps saying that Bethina's not stupid, but I had my doubts after witnessing the latter's lack of common sense.

The more secondary characters were no better. (Although really, everyone except Aoife and Dean was secondary in this book.) Archie frustrated me because he refused to tell Aoife information that might have made her do fewer stupid things, and Valentina was just your typical potential stepparent that is more than (s)he seems. Draven, mayor of Lovecraft, seemed like just a puppet in "Iron Thorn", but he's made out to be the real villain this time, and it's just not convincing. (Tremaine, the original villain, returns far too late in the book, and there's a lot of Fae-court nonsense I don't want to get into right now.) There are a few side characters who could have been interesting with more development (namely, a group of Russian sailors who pronounce Aoife's name "Effie"). But we don't have time for no stinkin' development when Aoife's got to save Nutty Nerissa!

The only good thing I can say about this book is that Dean's still Dean. He's still tough, sarcastic, goodhearted Dean. And somehow, he still cares about Aoife. I don't know how he put up with her; it was hard enough for me. I might read the last book in the series just for him. But after an idiotic ending in which Aoife's circumstances completely change in the space of one of her journal entries, I'm not even sure if it's worth it. IN THIS MOMENT (see what I did there?) I'm not planning to read any more.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This was an okay read.... 5 July 2012
By Latoya - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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?
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