The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
Target audience: Age 8-12
I absolutely loved this book. One of my favorite books growing up was The Secret Garden, so since this is an homage to that classic, I naturally I had to read it. Roo, orphaned when her parents are murdered, is packed off to live with an uncle in a mansion on the remote Cough Rock island. Her uncle stays away most of the time and Roo's only company is Miss Violet and Ms. Valentine who tells Roo all the hard and fast rules that MUST be obeyed. Roo is small and used to being alone. She loves to hide in small places and listen to the noises beneath the earth surface. The huge mansion, formerly a tuberculosis sanitarium, presents many mysteries ripe for her to solve. From the anguished cries of a young child to the strange humming noise reverberating through the very walls and secret boxes hidden in floorboards, Roo sets out to explore. She soon finds she has a cousin, Phillip, who remains sequestered in his sick room. She also becomes fascinated by a young boy who appears to just live in the wild, but turns out he is Sidh or fey. Roo befriends them both. But the biggest secret is discovered when she slides down the laundry shute only to land in what seems to be a long dead garden. Sound familiar? Together the three children work to revive the garden where other family secrets have been long buried. Even though Potter clearly brings elements directly from the original, she has created a singularly fresh tale. This book is shorter and more suspenseful with lovely gothic elements and a strong heroine. Highly recommended to middle grade readers.