cover image The Humming Room

The Humming Room

Ellen Potter. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-64438-3

In a resonant novel inspired by The Secret Garden, Potter (The Kneebone Boy) pays graceful tribute to the spirit of that classic. The author borrows plot elements effectively, yet her strong characterizations, fluid dialogue, and evocative descriptions give the novel a vibrant life of its own. After Roo’s drug dealer father is killed, the 12-year-old girl goes to live with her aloof, widowed uncle in a rambling former tuberculosis sanitarium on the island of Cough Rock in the St. Lawrence River. Roo is a loner who hides to avoid others and often puts her ear to the soil, listening to the sounds of life underground. Other noises—mysterious humming and crying—lead Roo to twin discoveries: Emmett, a cousin she didn’t know existed, and a domed, dried-up garden in a remote part of the house. Potter lavishes attention on the gothic island setting and Roo’s uncle’s estate; it’s a thrilling ghost story, but one that, like the story it’s drawn from, has love and rebirth at its heart. Ages 9–12. Agent: Alice Tasman, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Feb.)