Published by Scholastic, 2016.
13 year old Ellis Harper’s world has been turned upside down. Her single mom has just married a famous musician after a whirlwind romance. She’s been uprooted from their cosy flat in north London to a dilapidated mansion in the the wilds of Scotland. She’s left her friends and her school behind. And she can’t get an internet connection.
Throw in a surly older stepsister, awkward encounters with a local teenage boy, and a best friend back in London who belongs firmly in the “with friends like these…” camp, and you’ve all the makings of a young teen’s worst nightmare.
As Ellis struggles to adjust to her change in surroundings and to having a rival for her mom’s affections, she begins to hear whispers in the walls at Wilderwood Hall. These voices belong to the past and Ellis finds herself transported back to 1912 when the house was new and inhabited by a wealthy family and their servants. Although Ellis can see and hear everything when she travels back in time, she remains invisible. Almost. There is one person who can see her, Flora, a 14 year old housemaid. The two girls form a friendship, united by their isolation and loneliness. However, all is not quite as it seems in this other version of Wilderwood Hall and it might just be that life in the present could be better than Ellis thinks.
I enjoyed being transported to both versions of Wilderwood Hall. The modern day family dynamics were realistic and readers will relate to the domestic situations and complex emotions. The insights into the past and the historical connections added another absorbing layer to the story.
Furthermore, the exploration of teenage anxiety and panic attacks gives the book added depth. In moments of uncertainty and confusion, Ellis is overcome by waves of anxiety. At their worse, these panic attacks cause Ellis to pass out. The topic is sensitively handled and it’s an issue that is particularly relevant today when an increasing number of teens suffer from mental illness.
The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall is a compelling read – a real page-turner – and one I would definitely recommend.
Suitable for children aged 9+
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book to review.