Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
Pages: 192
Release Date:  February 28th, 2012
Date Read:  2012, January 14th-16th
Received:  ARC from NetGalley
Rating:  4/5 stars
Recommended to:  11+

Roo Fanshaw is small for her age, and very shy.  Her father, a man who dappled in illegal activities for a long time, has just been murdered, leaving Roo alone and in the custody of whoever will take her.  When she is taken from her home to her eccentric Uncle's house on an island, Roo finds this harder to bear than almost anything else.
When she arrives at her Uncle's mansion, what used to be a hospital for ill children, Roo finds herself drawn to the nature and the river on the outside - as well as the Humming that comes from the walls of the west wing.  There are secrets here, and Roo is determined to uncover them.  Can she unlock the mysteries of her family and heal her broken heart?

This story is incredibly sweet - and also very powerful.  I remember watching "The Secret Garden" movie a few times when I was younger, but I never got around to the book.  I wanted to read this even before I knew it was a retelling - and finding that out just made me even more excited.

I really like Ellen Potter's style.  She uses words and sets pace very gracefully.  Her writing style creates very clear imagery, very strong and interesting characters, and a touching, heartfelt story.  I'm honestly really impressed by how beautiful this book is.

Roo Fanshaw is the quirky, realistic and vivid character I think everyone wishes they could write/read about all the time.  She's the kind of character I always loved most growing up - the one you can relate to, but who has different struggles and a very realistic and unique personality.  Roo had me eagerly awaiting her every action.  Her personal struggles are deep; her endeavors - in the garden and with the boys she meets - are very touching.  In this story, Roo's life is turned upside-down: she changes (and still stays very consistent), and she changes others around her.

I really liked Violet's character - funny, talkative, and full of laughter.  She brightened teh story a lot; without her it would have been a bit too dark.

The Faigne and the other boy, Philip (I won't say anything in case you don't know much about the original story), were very different and both absolutely necessary to the story.  Part of me wishes there had been more of both of them, but then again, it was great as it was.

The Humming Room is a pretty darn intense story.  Not like action-packed, but...eerie.  Roo's adventures in her Uncle's dark castle, and in the almost fairytale-like land around it were riveting.  Cough Rock was the perfect backdrop to the mystery and discovery in the story.

For the most part, all the events and conversations were very well-placed; everything about the story was emotionally gripping.  The two things that bothered me, the reason for 4 instead of 5 stars, were these: the part of me that wishes there was more development about the boys, and the end scenes.  Those last two or three scenes were good, but not great like the rest.  They came to a close a little too quickly, like they could have been stretched out maybe 15 more pages.  Roo's Uncle Fanshaw could have been brought into things more as well.

But overall, everything really was fantastic.  From the garden to the Faigne; from the despair to the joy - I can't wait to have this one on my shelf and let my friends read it!

The Humming Room is simple, yet so intricate as well.  It was a really great read and I'm ecstatic to read Potter's previous book, The Kneebone Boy, which I've wanted to read forever but haven't found the time to.  Now it's on my priority list, because Potter's work is just too good to pass up!

For the Parents -
Nothing at all!

*This ARC copy was provided by NetGalley in return for an honest review. I was in no way compensated; all thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.*


  1. Awww, this book sounds COMPLETELY adorable!! <3 If you asked me last year, I probably never would've read any middle grade novels but this year is the time for going back and I'm loving so many MG books now! :) I find that they always have amazing characters (like Roo, Violet, and Philip!) and a fast-paced yet sort of moral storyline!

    Amazing review, Sierra! It's like your review is calling to me -- simple yet intricate? I can't wait to read this! ;) <3

  2. Oh yay I'm so glad you want to read it!!  It was awesome!  Yes, MG books can be seriously, amazing in ways you wouldn't even expect.  It's great that you're getting into them more!  Have you read "Liesl & Po" yet??

  3. Nice! Roo sounds much better than Mary (I didn't like her very much). I like how you describe her.  I'm curious about this book, but I want to read The Kneebone Boy even more so I'll be keeping a watch out for both this book in my library and your review of her other book.