Sixteen-year-old Anna receives a letter from her father’s girlfriend telling her he has died and asking to meet. Anna is drawn to Edie: her warmth, her character, her ability to rustle up delicious meals, all of which her own mother is seemingly incapable of… and the way she can tell Edie the secret that is buried inside her.
A tautly told, compelling tale about mothers and daughters and the lengths that some will go to, to make their dreams come true.
I didn’t really know a lot about this novel before I started reading it, but let me tell you this: not knowing what you’re in for makes this book so much more unputdownable. The blurb doesn’t give away much, and I’m going to endeavour to do the same. The Yellow Room was such a thrilling, captivating novel and I honestly didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. The pacing was fantastic, the characters were intriguing and realistic, and there were moments when I wasn’t sure who I could trust. If you’re a fan of mysteries with twists you’ll never see coming, this book is definitely for you.
What initially drew me into The Yellow Room was the character Leon. He’s introduced as a somewhat repulsive young man who’s desperate to be in a relationship with our main character. The funniest thing about that was that I knew a person who had so many of the same characteristics as Leon did and the things he said made me laugh out loud because of the striking similarities between him and this boy I used to know. Because of that, I found myself hooked and wanting to know what would happen to Leon and how everything would play out. However, as the novel progressed, it was revealed that Leon, this egotistical, intense boy with literary aspirations, was actually blackmailing Anna with what she thought could be the end of her life as she knows it. I loved how Vallance took this nerdy ‘loser’ stereotype and changed it into something truly unexpected and original. Thank goodness I don’t know anyone like Leon turned out to be. After all, some people aren’t as harmless as they first appear.
The witty remarks and humour in The Yellow Room is also something that makes this book very enjoyable. Vallance’s sarcasm was the kind that I normally write into my own stories, so I managed to fall into this story and our protagonist’s mindset with ease. I honestly don’t think any novel has made me laugh out loud in public more than this one did, and that’s part of what made me love this book so much. But The Yellow Room isn’t just funny. Sure, there’s some pretty witty remarks made throughout, but ultimately it’s a book that’s about blackmail, bullying and learning who to trust. Although it might seem like you’ve figured out what this book is about, there’s an element to it that allows it to transcend traditional labels of just another ‘contemporary’ and actually become a chilling urban drama that leaves readers to confront their own morality and consider how their actions might have differed from that of the characters. The Yellow Room is a thought-provoking read that gets more intense with the turn of every page.
The characters are really the driving force of this novel and I loved getting to know them. Anna, our protagonist, was easy to connect with because I feel as though everyone can find a part of her that they relate to. Whether that’s feeling like you don’t quite belong, trying to work out who your real family is, dealing with bullying or hating to let people down, Anna is a character who speaks to all of us. What was most interesting about her was that what could have been seen as her most positive trait, being afraid of letting people down and doing everything from the goodness of her heart, also contributes to what is almost her downfall. The Yellow Room allows us to meditate upon our own qualities and the way in which some ‘desirable’ characteristics might not be as beneficial as they first present themselves.
Probably the most major aspect of this novel is the relationships between individuals, and that’s really what The Yellow Room focusses on. Whether that’s the relationship between Anna and Leon, or Anna and her mother, or Anna and Edie — a complete stranger who forms a close bond with Anna. What relationship is most interesting is that of Anna and Edie, and it’s really the point on which the whole novel revolves around. We’re introduced to Edie as a wacky, eccentric individual who may come across as a little odd, but is ultimately a warm person and has a heart of gold. But as Anna learns, sometimes trusting people can be difficult, and misplaced trust can be detrimental. I loved watching Anna become a more courageous, brave person because of her interactions with Edie, but learning that there was something hidden beneath the veneer of a loving bond made this book one that was impossible to put down until I learnt what was going to happen.
Ultimately, The Yellow Room is a quirky novel with the tension and addictiveness of a thriller that will make you want to devour it in one sitting. If you’re a fan of contemporaries with a dark twist, I can’t recommend this novel enough.
Have you heard of The Yellow Room? Does it sound like a book you’d be interested in reading? Are you a fan of books with thrilling or mysterious elements? What’s your favourite book with a yellow cover? Let’s discuss everything bookish!
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Title: The Yellow Room
Publication date: October 2016
Publisher: Bonnier, Hotkey
Australian RRP: $16.99