The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
publisher: Feiwel & Friends
release date: February 28th, 2012
hardcover, 192 pages
intended audience: Middle Grade
source: from publisher from honest review
Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.
As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.
Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.
Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.
Review: One of the things I love most about retellings is that lovely feeling of familiarity that you get. A really good retelling tends to feel like an old friend that you are seeing in a new light. I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden when I was little, still do actually, and I really think Ellen Potter did a wonderful job of revisiting this classic tale. The bones of the original story are still there, a feisty heroine, an old gloomy house that holds a hidden secret, a distraught shut-in cousin...but she bumps up the intrigue with a little more of a mystical atmosphere, a few ghostly surprises, and just the tiniest hint of that first discovery of love.
I absolutely loved Roo. Fierce little thing with a bit of a jaded outlook on life, being raised by drug-dealing parents. She is small for her age, and odd but very clever---she's a bit sticky-fingered and loves to hide away for hours, alone in her own head. When her parents are murdered, she is sent to live with an uncle she didn't know existed, in his creepy old house that was once a children's tuberculosis hospital. What I loved the most was that this story accomplished one thing in less than 200 pages than some never do in twice that length---character growth, and beautifully done! Roo grows, emotionally, physically, metaphorically. I am always looking for great characters, and this story was full of them. Mrs. Valentine, Phillip, and especially Violet and Jack---I loved them all.
One thing that did stray from the original, but fitting right in with the garden story---both Roo and Jack both seemed to have a mystical connection with the elements, him to water and her to earth. I don't want to give more than that away, but it gave the whole story a feeling of enchantment and charm.
A definite reminder of why I still love to read middle grade fiction!
Visit Ellen Potter's website: www.ellenpotter.com
Purchase The Humming Room at: Amazon • BN.com • BookDepository • Indiebound