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Parallel plotlines, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door.
Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it's closing down for good. But when a bully goes too far, Mary's revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

Years later, Ella moves to a new town where she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute. Determined to befriend the mysterious, evasive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's history and uncover its secrets.

Ella's story is told through striking, bold art; Mary's is told through diary entries. Each informs the other until the two eventually intersect to reveal the truth behind Thornhill's shadowy past, once and for all. Strikingly told and masterfully illustrated, Pam Smy bends genres and expectations alike.

234 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 24, 2017

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About the author

Pam Smy

16 books106 followers
Pam Smy studied Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, part of Anglia Ruskin University, where she now lectures part-time. Pam has illustrated books by Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Julia Donaldson (Follow the Swallow) and Kathy Henderson (Hush, Baby, Hush!), among others. She lives in Cambridge.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,480 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
March 14, 2018
I'm kind of bummed out by this one. Maybe I need to let it sit for a little bit before I make a full opinion on it, but at this point I'm feeling severely underwhelmed. I was hoping for a less predictable outcome and just when I thought the story was going to take on a different route, it didn't. If you're going to market a book as creepy, deliver that creepiness. I will say the art throughout this was excellent!
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,021 reviews97 followers
September 23, 2017
To see the full review, please visit https://readrantrockandroll.com/2017/...

I’ve been pondering about what to say about this book for days. It took me awhile to see how I felt about the book and I ended up reading it twice. I could feel myself frowning the entire way all the way to the end.

There are two different storylines parallel to each other. The prose is the story of Mary in 1982, while the haunting, interlaced, black and white illustrations are Ella’s story in the present.

Mary is an orphan living at Thornhill in 1982 and is waiting to be adopted. She’s one of the only girls left along with a very mean girl who enjoys tormenting and bullying Mary to the point that Mary remains locked in her room most days.

She dreads even coming out to eat and spends all of her time in her room making dolls or reading The Secret Garden. Mary’s story is told from her diary pages. I found it emotional and really couldn’t understand why something wasn’t being done to control the behavior of these girls who were treating her wrongly and bullying her. There are spoilers/hints along the way which gives you an idea about the end. I thought that was almost too much.

Ella’s story is quite different. Told in the present, she’s moved into a house right next door to Thornhill and deals with her own set of problems. Her mother is absent for whatever reason, and her father is busy with work-related engagements, so Ella is left alone most of the time. Thornhill is viewed from right outside her window and she becomes curious when she sees a girl in the garden there, even though Thornhill has been shut down since 1982. It’s abandoned, but Ella is curious and begins to wonder about the girl she sees from time to time. She begins exploring the garden because, what else is there for her do?

This is a fairly large book at about 540 pages, but many of the pages are illustrations which make it a fairly quick read. I found the illustrations paired with Mary’s diary haunting and I didn’t want to put it down until I could find out what was going to happen with these two girls. I found the book unique, chilling, and atmospheric, but honestly, I wasn’t happy with parts of it, especially the unexplained abrupt ending. Overall, it’s good and even though it’s juvenile fiction, it kept me engaged until the end.

My rating is 4.5****
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,118 reviews44.8k followers
October 29, 2017
Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, this story is haunting, mysterious and touching.

Mary is a unique child; she's introverted and very talented, spending most of her time by herself creating her fantasies through making puppets. She is being severely bullied, but her bully has gone further than most. She torments her, haunts her steps and takes every opportunity to make Mary's life a living hell. Too scared to sleep, too uncomfortable to eat with others, Mary has become an isolated mute stuck in her room at Thornhill.

Dark and dreary illustrations

Thornhill is eerily reminiscent of Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre with its dark corridors and hidden mysteries. Holly even attempts to take strength from Jane's example, quoting her in one of her many diary entries as an effort to deal with her bully. The novel is told through these journal entries and accompanied by dark illustrations. The actions of Ella are depicted in image followed by Mary who narrates her experience within her diary. It goes back and forth, becoming more intense as the story reaches its end. The power of the story resides in the sheer level of emotion that comes through the diary at the end. The illustrations reflect this with their unmistakably gothic nature; the house is dark and creepy, it's full of shadows and the sky is overcast and dreary. It's not a place many children would want to find themselves in.



Foster homes are a place for abandoned children. Jacqueline Wilson famously referred to them as The Dumping Grounds in the Tracy Beaker series. And for the children put into Thornhill this is very much the case. The house is probably normal to the outward eye, but to their perceptions it reflects the mood of the place. Their carers are not as attentive as they should be; they miss the signs of bullying and their eventual responses to it help to facilitate such behaviour further. All in all, they do everything that foster homes shouldn't do. Woe to Mary and Ella, victim and perpetrator of a situation that could have been so easily resolved had it been recognised by responsible eyes.

Central to this story is bullying and understanding exactly what causes it. It's very easy to point the finger at the bully, but underneath their outward aggression and hostility resides a sense of fragility. They bully to make themselves feel better about whom they are; they project their weaknesses and insecurity on to others they deem similar. Their self-hatred causes them to attack someone not unlike themselves. And Smy captures this in here. She gets to the root of the problem and depicts two little girls who should always have been friends; thus, the ending, the last illustration, is exactly on the mark. It ends absolutely perfectly.


Thornhill is a very strong story, but the way in which it is told is eloquent and creative. It doesn't take very long to read, I got through it in less than two hours, but afterwards it lingered in my mind. I read it again and then again.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
October 29, 2019

an oddly liminal book: somewhere in-between novel and graphic novel, somewhere in-between YA and middle grade, somewhere in-between me liking it and me being indifferent towards it.

as a designed physical object, it’s impressive. it’s solid and heavy and fits nicely in the hand, the cover is subtly embossed and the cover image is seductively spooky. all good things. it’s also a breeze of a read, as half of the story is sequential art and the other half is diary entries. oddly enough, the portion without words takes longer to ‘read,’ because you wanna absorb the details and look for additional clues. but being pretty and fast isn’t everything, as many high school girls learn soon enough, and this one doesn't have lasting appeal. also like high school girls, this is for a younger-than-me audience, so keep that in mind, but i had a few complaints.

i thought the artwork was iffy - she’s really good at landscapes and inanimate objects,

but her humans/former humans don’t always pull their graphic weight.

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which is frustrating and disappointing, because sometimes she does it really well

and sometimes it’s all unformed and meh

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that profile is bananas.

and as a general rule couched in a very specific example - if you’re going to show a picture of a door that is meant to have a word scratched on it, even if that detail hasn’t yet come up in the story, you have to either show the word or make different decisions about your composition, because its absence will be noted during a second-read.

as far as the story, i dunno. a lot of it is pretty standard slumber party stuff, but i appreciated how this one was more bittersweet than horror. it’s a story of bullying and loneliness and grief and why parental supervision is a thing that matters. but there’s still some stuff that’s unclear to me.

boring nitpicking begins:

because - back to that door-scratching - it seems like there’s some ambiguity around whether her little nemesis was the one doing it. from the beginning, i suspected it was someone/thing else, because it didn’t seem to be in keeping with her usual MO, which had been more geared towards big demonstrative bullying with instant payoff rather than chinese water torture/psychological breakdown. i mean, who wants to stand outside someone’s door all night scratching like a tailypo when it’s so much more fun to cover a girl with gravy in front of all her peers? so i assumed it was some kind of ghostie trying to make contact with mary that would then daisy-chain into the future with ella & etc, establishing some sort of lonely-kid ghostie club stretching back over the years. but, no.

i just don’t understood the story overall. there seemed to be something “off” throughout, to characters and their motivations. kathleen seems to be genuinely concerned about mary, but then she’s all - hooray, a cruise 4 me!, sending a doctor as a consolation prize but surely knowing that mary isn’t suddenly going to break her vow of silence for some strange man. and jane and pete merrily going on their way, leaving troubled and straight-up vicious little girls all alone? etc etc.

boring nitpicking ends

so, yeah - the story is rough, the artwork is uneven, but it's definitely not a waste of time. i just thought this was going to be one of those I LOVE YOU books, and it didn't work out that way.

good puppets, though.

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hmmmm gimmie a minute to think on this...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,346 followers
November 8, 2017
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Thornhill blends a wordless graphic novel with a narrative written in prose to convey a story that tackles dark issues but offers no scares whatsoever.
Profile Image for Natalie.
565 reviews3,195 followers
September 7, 2017
“We are the voiceless ones.”

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

This tale set in alternate times, one told in words and the other in drawings, sounded right up my alley when I discovered it back in May. In particular because it reminded me a lot of  Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, which had a similar format of storytelling that I loved. Unlike that one, though, Thornhill is a creepy and disquieting ghost story. That is to say: I was racing to finish reading it before sunset because I’m not about to be scared out of leaving my bedroom... again, since ghosts are one of my greatest fears, thanks to watching the horrendous film called The Sixth Sense at night when I was just eight years old. (I thought at the time that I was brave and cool and that it wouldn't be as eerie as the blurb made it seem.) (Oh, how wrong I was.)

“I like the noise of being surrounded by a group. It’s as though there are little stories whizzing around—dreams of pop groups and boyfriends, gossip about eyeliner and shoes and teachers. I don’t have to join in, but still I feel part of their gang—on the edges looking in, watching, listening, but happy to be included.”

Circling back to the book, a pleasant surprise came to me with the drawings, which wasn't what I expected in terms of style before reading. I feel like ages have passed since I last sat down and enjoyed a proper book. But I was a bit disheartened to see that the art was on the lower side compared to the prose. Overtime, I actually came to look forward most to what the story would convey through these black and white drawings.

Thornhill 1-- bookspoils

Thornhill 2-- bookspoils

Thornhill 3-- bookspoils

Thornhill 4-- bookspoils

Thornhill 5-- bookspoils

Thornhill 6-- bookspoils

Thornhill 7-- bookspoils

But for now I'm definitely on the lookout for a more lighthearted read after the eeriness left by Thornhill. I mean, that ending surely raised the hair on the back of my neck. *Shudders.*

3/5 stars

Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Thornhill, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,273 reviews1,194 followers
October 29, 2017
Hurt People, Hurt Other People.

Thornhill was not scary to me as an adult but it probably would be to the kids in age demographic it was written for.

Thornhill is two stories, the first story is about a sad bullied orphan living in badly run orphanage in 1982. The second story takes place in the present is about a lonely young girl who's father is too busy working and being a non entity to take care of his daughter and (I assume)her mother died, so they move to a new house that is next door to a very creepy abandoned old house.

Thornhill is told through journal entries and illustrations. As I said before this book wasn't scary to me as an adult but it was incredibly sad. Mary the orphan is being bullied on a daily basis and her life is a living hell but none of the adults that are suppose to be looking after her seem to care. Only one adult in her life even makes an attempt to help and even that was half assed. Mary only wanted to be friends with the other kids in the orphanage and to make her creepy little puppets but instead she was made fun of, shunned and treated like garbage. The adults could and should have stepped in but instead they chose to actively ignore it.

Ella the present day lonely girl is obviously grief- stricken and in dire need of her fathers love and attention but instead he leaves her alone all day, everyday to work. She doesn't even see him for days at a time. I don't know how old she is but from the illustrations she looked about 10 or 11. That's too young to be left alone all day. I'm sure the kids that read this probably won't pick up on any of this. Too them Thornhill is just a creepy book with really cool illustrations but I think most adults will pick up on the real theme of this book.


Bullying is aided but neglectful adults. Its not up to kids to stop bullying. Its up to adults. If any of the adults in this book had cared or looked out for these kids than the things that transpired in this book would never have happened..

I highly recommend Thornhill to both kids and adults alike.
Profile Image for Coos Burton.
785 reviews1,334 followers
December 29, 2020
Un inicio confuso pero lleno de intriga. Me gustó la idea de combinar dos historias en dos estilos diferentes: por un lado, la historia escrita, y por otro, la historia a través de las ilustraciones. Me pareció muy original. El final es desgarrador.
Profile Image for La loca de los libros .
313 reviews162 followers
July 11, 2022
Una novela cargada de emoción y que trata un tema muy candente como es el bullying. 
Mi edición consta de más de quinientas páginas pero repletas de ilustraciones que devorarás en un abrir y cerrar de ojos.
Pam Smy nos regala una emotiva historia con el acompañamiento mediante imágenes perfecto y acorde con el tono melancólico y triste que desprenden sus páginas.

La historia está dividida en dos líneas temporales, por un lado el presente que se nos narra mediante las ilustraciones en tonos de gris, donde conoceremos a Ella, que se muda junto a su padre a una casa que colinda con Thornhill. Y el pasado en forma de diario y que transcurre en el año 1982, narrado por Mary Baines sobre lo ocurrido en ese antiguo orfanato para chicas llamado Thornhill.
Ambas líneas temporales tienen un nexo de unión, y ese es el orfanato.

A grandes rasgos diré que se trata de una historia de fantasmas, de lugares encantados que guardan celosamente sus secretos tras los muros decrépitos por el paso del tiempo y el abandono.
Es una gran historia con un mensaje muy importante tras sus líneas, y con un final que me ha parecido muy oscuro y cíclico porque podría repetirse por mucho tiempo... 🤐 y donde se funden ambas líneas temporales. Esa ha sido la mejor parte junto con las imágenes que acompañan la historia.
En esencia, es una lectura muy recomendable, con una bonita y cuidada edición que se disfruta pero que puede que a los que tengamos muchas lecturas en las espaldas se nos quede un poco "coja" en cuanto a trama. Igualmente lo guardaré como oro en paño para que en unos años nuestras hijas puedan disfrutar de este tétrico cuento.  

👌Como he dicho, la edición es maravillosa pero lo veo más enfocado a un público juvenil. Tiene pocos personajes y la historia es muy fácil de seguir.
Es más, en mi opinión, debería ser de lectura obligada en institutos.

Atrévete a descubrir lo que aguarda tras los muros de Thornhill 😉 ¿Te animas?

🏚 "La soledad no es nada comparada con el pánico que siento cuando ella está en Thornhill."

🏚 "Puedo vivir siendo torturada durante el día, pero el miedo que siento de noche es insoportable."

📖 Próxima lectura:
"La niña de ninguna parte" - Christian White.

📚 https://www.facebook.com/LaLocadelosL... 📚
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,200 reviews3,177 followers
January 21, 2021
4.5 Stars
This was such a wonderful piece of middle grade horror. More unsettling than scary, I was completely immersed in this short story. The narrative was slower paced, yet it was captivating. The pictures between the chapters added to the mystery with simple, yet effective illustrations. I would highly recommend this one to readers of all ages. I almost found the story and it's  ending more disturbing as an adult. 
Profile Image for Figgy.
678 reviews219 followers
July 2, 2017
You guys... I have shivers.

This book is beautiful, inside and out, and I don't quite know what to say just yet. But... wow.

Maybe not the most unique storyline ever for someone who's been on this planet for thirty years, but it deals with bullying, and loss, and loneliness, and the writing is simple and raw. One story (Mary's) is told completely in words in the form of her diary entries, and the other (Ella's) is told entirely in pictures.

Review to come closer to release (around October).
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,862 reviews2,242 followers
November 3, 2017
This was a book I happened to pick up when I saw it was new at the library. I find children's books geared for older readers but still illustrated intrigue me, so I started it right away. And while I liked the majority of the graphics, the actual people didn't look great.

This story is told in half and half, a flashback to the 80's in diary form, and the other in illustrations and no words in the present. The present is a girl kind of abandoned by her father and she discovers secrets of the abandoned building nearby. The past is about a young girl in a foster home who is being bullied and does not talk.

I finished this, so it was compelling enough to make me wonder what happened. But what made me lower my rating despite enjoying most of the book was that piece of crap ending. This is geared for younger readers, and I know it's technically horror, but I am very not okay with the ending and what happened. Like, I almost rated this 1 star because of it, but I wanted to acknowledge the majority of it was decent before the end.

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Profile Image for ✦BookishlyRichie✦.
641 reviews1,035 followers
August 17, 2019
5 STARS!!!!

That was awesome and spooky as hell! I loved that the book was half pictures/graphic novel and half diary entries, it made it a super quick read and also unputdownable. I didn't want to stop reading because I needed to know what the hell was going on and I loved that. This is a sad story, but it also has this haunted house element that is super creepy and atmospheric.

The illustrations were brilliant and reminded me a lot of Brian Selznick, whom I adore. I hope the author writes more books like this because it was fun. I will be buying myself a copy for my shelf eventually because it deserves a spot on it. If you're looking for something spooky, thrilling, and quick, pick this up!

- Richard
Profile Image for Jen .
2,658 reviews27 followers
August 26, 2017
Bad guy wins. Utterly depressing. Don't bother. Stopped at page 332 to skip to the end and it was complete rubbish. I was bullied MERCILESSLY in middle school, so I wanted the bullied Mary to get back at her tormentor. Yeah, SO didn't happen. Then Ella "joined" her. Nice. Real nice. 1, I wish I could go lower to show my utter hatred for the story in this book, stars. If you are a sociopathic bully, you may enjoy this book. I can't imagine anyone else enjoying it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,380 reviews406 followers
October 2, 2021
I loved every minute of this and the ending was perfect for the book. It might be for younger YA but wow, was it fascinating to read. Such a different way to read with both pictures and text. Perfect mix of mystery and creepyness
Profile Image for Katie.
273 reviews3,838 followers
November 25, 2021
This has been on my reading list ever since Getting Hygge With It recommended it to me! Even from the first three pages, I could tell why she thought it would be up my alley. I adored the beginning/end but the middle did get a bit monotonous. Overall highly recommend if you're looking for a quick gothic read.
Profile Image for Maliha Tabassum Tisha.
127 reviews321 followers
July 15, 2022
This is no horror in the classic sense of the word. Its true horror lies not within the paranormal or gothic elements of it, but in the experiences of the main characters, in the world they were born in, in the reverberations of everything they do to each other and to themselves, in the glaring implacability of an all too familiar vicious cycle.

Might be a little too dark and depressing for its target audience, but I was pleasantly surprised. Never expected I'd get much out of this book, to begin with, since I hardly find enough substance for my liking in non-adult materials anymore. But this is just so unlike anything from the same age bracket that I've ever read or even heard of though. Pam Smy really just took the known theme of bullying and turned it inside out to reveal the most hideous festering patches of its bowels.
“Are they deliberately cruel or do they just not care? Or does it amount to the same thing?”

I loved how raw and nuanced this book was, how well-thought-out and well-executed. It felt as though this was a rather intimate and heartfelt thing to write for the author. It also is very quick to get through without once being bored or distracted, thanks to the two alternating timelines being recounted through short diary entries and wordless graphics respectively. The storylines overlap in a seamless and effective manner, and the sense of dread and despair lingers well beyond the last page. I recommend knowing and expecting as little as possible from the book as you go in.

I'm also all for how the book ends — it's the only way to wind it up without soft-pedaling and ruining all that had been established thus far — which was all that mattered to me for quite some time thereupon. I even contemplated rating this with five solid stars, but all things considered, this actually is a 4-star read personally.

Your mileage may vary, but I had to struggle a lot the whole time to feel a strong emotional connection with each of the main characters, especially with Ella. While I did feel sorry and concerned for these girls, even for "her", during the most intense of moments, that was a mere drop in the bucket. I liked Mary's character and her chapters despite that, however, whereas Ella's were an outright frustration.

I believe if Ella's pov had some extra 30-odd pages with longer chapters — in order to further reinforce her character, her loneliness, her preoccupation with the dilapidated Thornhill Institute and with Mary, etc; as well as to immerse me more into her portions — her storyline wouldn't have been so bare-bones and fleeting, and her character would've felt far less one-dimensional and subsidiary compared to Mary's.

It's likely that Ella's character/storyline wasn't intended for a similar weightage, but that is what I wanted from the book anyway and that is what hindered my enjoyment to some degree.
"For a hundred years, every Thornhill girl has scratched her name into the brickwork, along with her best friend’s name, hundreds of pairs of names scraped into the red brick. All the other girls I have known at Thornhill are on that porch. Only my name is missing."
Profile Image for Bill.
938 reviews160 followers
September 15, 2021
Pam Smy has written and illustrated an atmospheric & cleverly constructed YA novel.
In 1982 young Mary Baines lives at Thornhill, an orphanage, where she is subjected to bullying from the other girls. Her story is told through entries in her diary.
In 2017 Ella, and her frequently absent father, move into a house opposite Thornhill. The orphanage is now derelict & has been empty for over 30 years., but when Ella investigates the grounds she sees a young girl who she tries to befriend. Ella's story is told completely through illustrations.
Thornhill is a very well written story & the two formats used to tell it work brilliantly.
Profile Image for Lauren.
845 reviews929 followers
November 9, 2017

Well that was SUPER creepy! I loved it!

I bought Thornhill after I saw it on one of my favourite booktube channels :) and the person who read it raved about it so I thought I would give it a go...and I was richly rewarded with an intriguing, atmospheric and very haunting read.

The story is divided into diary extracts and stunning illustrations which I really enjoyed and thought worked wonderfully in this graphic novel medium. We follow a girl called Mary Baines in 1982 who is an orphan at Thornhill and writes about her sad times at the house which involves a lot of bullying from another girl. We are also introduced to a girl called Ella who is from the present and has just moved in to a new house with her father (who is always absent because he is at work). From her bedroom window she can see the old dilapidated ruin which was formerly Thornhill and she often sees an outline of a girl and lights on in the house.

The story progresses and we learn that Mary who has selective mutism is the target of ridicule, harassment and bullying. At times, I was quite disturbed by the amount of shit she had to take and very annoyed at how her carers didn't want to get involved and acknowledge what was happening to her. Mary lives a very secluded and isolated life at Thornhill whereby she spends most of her time confined to her room at the top of the house surrounded by her dolls which she makes from clay and considers them her friends. I immediately sided with Mary and loved her character.

Since we don't hear Ella's voice in the book, we see her as someone whose curiosity gets the better of her when she ventures into Thornhill in order to find out who the figure is. From Smy's illustrations which are absolutely BREATHTAKING and EERIE (they remind me quite a bit of Emily Carroll's Through the Woods which is another graphic novel I loved!) we learn that Ella is often on her own with no human contact and so reaches out to this figure she often sees from her bedroom window.

The awful thing though is that the story is just so TRAGIC. At the end, when most of the staff have left Thornhill and the girls have been re-homed, the only two who are left are Mary and the bully (I actually cannot remember her name which is terrible of me) where they come to blows again. I really wanted Mary to get her revenge because no-one should have to suffer like that especially when they are in an orphanage without the support and protection of their so-called carers but the bully escapes and leaves. Mary, who has always led an insular life and is faced with the terrifying prospect of being re-homed with the bully, and who has always considered Thornhill to be her home, commits suicide in (what I can only assume is) a horrific, brutal and violent way.

And then comes Ella's turn. I really didn't see this coming but Ella also dies too :/ She finally gets into Thornhill and we see her with another figure who we suspect to be Mary but then lightning strikes and the house goes up in flames, consuming her.

The last pages did unsettle me as the two were together (both now dead) with the final line something like 'I only wanted a friend', and we see a boy named Jacob now in Ella's room who looks out at the ruined Thornhill possible suggesting that he too might be next!!!

So, there you have it - a very long (and waffly) review of Thornhill.

It was disturbing, creepy, unsettling, chilling, atmospheric and haunting. An easy 5 stars for those who love the macabre.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brooke.
284 reviews142 followers
November 7, 2017
Told in both a wordless graphic novel & prose, THORNHILL is a story I couldn't wait to be done with. Combining the past (1982) with the present, THORNHILL revolves around Mary, a quiet girl living at the orphanage waiting to be adopted. Unfortunately, having selective mutism along with her hobby of puppet-making, makes her misunderstood, leading her to be one of the last girls at the home. Besides Mary, there's "her"- a nasty bully who brings so much mental distress that Mary stays in her room for days at a time. Of course none of the adults in her life (save for one exception) make any attempt to help her out & Mary is left with the decision to speak up or take matters into her own hands.

Fast forward to the present & we find Ella, another lonely girl who has been abandoned by her father. Living next to the now vacant orphanage, Ella manages to get ahold of Mary's diary, eventually following the disappointing conclusion. THORNHILL has active themes of bullying, neglect & people in power positions who choose to idly sit by, all of which could have had the ability to be more effective. Perhaps if the prose was stronger, this might have made more of an impact on me. In all actuality I was a bit shocked of how childish the text is, especially considering the themes. For such a short story, I feel the language could have been more wisely chosen to truly convey the weight of Mary's situation.

Add onto that, what was that ending? I'm probably in the minority here, but I absolutely despised how everything tied together. I get that it's "horror"- & it wasn't that it was scary, but more just annoyed of how Mary extracts her revenge. The last image of the book is the most haunting part of all...

I did enjoy Mary's puppet-making & her own "secret garden", but this isn't something I'd read again. Thankfully it was a quick read.
Profile Image for Alwynne.
643 reviews729 followers
July 9, 2023
Pam Smy's brooding, gothic artwork is wonderfully arresting, perfect for her atmospheric, ghost story centred on two girls brought together through their different connections to Thornhill, a rundown, isolated house in Chester. Moving between the early 1980s and the present, a young girl Ella finds the abandoned diary of Mary once resident at Thornhill during its time as a children's home. I loved the details here, particularly in Mary's diary which includes the books she's reading to her careful crafting of an array of strange puppet-like figures, and the contrast between these sections and Ella's wordless responses, I just wish the ending hadn't been quite so brutally downbeat.
Profile Image for Mathew.
1,525 reviews176 followers
August 29, 2017
Pam Smy is very good at world building. As a Senior Lecturer in Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, exploring that balance between character and place is something I expect she understands incredibly well. So when I state that Thornhill is a masterclass in narrative drawing, I feel I’m standing on solid ground. Mary and Ella, two young girls who live a stone’s throw away from each other yet thirty-five years apart, find themselves bound by unspoken parallels and an inescapable similitude of the heart. Part diary, part wordless illustration, this is an intelligent dual-narrative, gothic graphic novel whose characters and landscape burn tangibly with life.

Rest of my review here
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,320 reviews18 followers
September 5, 2017
Enjoyable graphic - all done in pen and ink. Tells two stories at once. One in pictures alone and one in words. Both stories are about young girls and loneliness. One about bullying and one about catching the past.

It amazes me what an author can do with a graphic novel - especially one of few words. So much can be said in pictures - a whole story, a whole lifetime. Although over 500 pages this enchanting novel can be read in about an hours time. However, the tale told and the imagery stays with you much longer.
Profile Image for Dina.
589 reviews331 followers
November 9, 2019
Es angustioso e inquietante y está muy muy bien traído.
Y el final!!!!
Profile Image for Sarah.
322 reviews151 followers
September 1, 2021
Thornhill consists of two stories being told consecutively, one in the form of diary entries and the other in illustrations. The diary entries are set in the past (1982) and the illustrations in the present day (well, 2017). The huge, gorgeous-looking hardback edition with its black pages caught my eye in the library.

Mary is a young girl in the 1980s who resides in a girls’ home called Thornhill. Her story is very dark; she is lonely with only the puppets she crafts for company. No family seems interested in adopting her. She is also being tormented and bullied, by a small group but there is one girl who is particularly cruel to her. Mary refers to her as she, with disdain.
Mary feels trapped, to her she feels doomed to reside in Thornhill forever…

Ella is a young girl in 2017 who has moved into a house next to where the decrepit remains of the Thornhill building remains, unused since 1982. Her mother has seemingly passed away and her father has left her home alone whilst he goes to work, leaving her notes.
Ella sneaks into the grounds of Thornhill and finds herself being watched in the distance by a young girl. But every time she tries to get closer, she disappears. She soon finds some dolls and puppets that she assumes must belong to whomever is haunting these grounds. She takes one of the puppets home and does some repairs on it to leave for the apparition on the grounds.

Ella and Mary have one thing in common. All they want is a friend…

This is a quick read to get through with some gloriously creepy illustrations. 💀👻🖤
Profile Image for Gafas y Ojeras.
248 reviews216 followers
November 22, 2019
Hay ciertos libros que tienen la capacidad de recoger tus absurdos prejuicios hacia ellos, pisotearlos, darles un par de vueltas, y devolverte tus ideas preconcebidas envueltas en un papel de regalo. Esos libros que no lees porque das por hecho que no estaban escritos para ti, que son simples entretenimientos para chavales sin elevadas ambiciones y que, en definitiva, juzgas sin concederle una mínima oportunidad.
Del modo que cuando me vendieron esta historia con la etiqueta de terror para adolescentes pues se me activaron todos los sensores de viejo sabelotodo. Era muy bonito el libro si, y las ilustraciones adornaban sus numerosas páginas diluyendo el meollo de la historia. Todo un prodigio se edición empaquetada para venderte un hermoso contenedor vacío. Pero claro, empiezas a leerla con ese animo y, de pronto, encuentras detalles que no esperabas encontrar en una obra de este calibre.
Es ahí cuando apagas el televisor y te acomodas en tu sillón de lectura. Es ahí cuando frunces el ceño y te planteas que la trama que estás leyendo esta empezando a rumiarte por dentro. Es ahí cuando empieza a afectarte las bromas, críticas, desprecios y desgracias que está padeciendo una protagonista con la que te sientes identificado en todo momento. Y es ahí cuando, ya con tus defensas bajadas, el silencio que te rodea empieza a jugarte malas pasadas.
Porque esta historia esconde una trama terrorífica que te pilla desprevenido. Todos alguna vez nos hemos sentido fuera de lugar, encerrados en un mundo en el que no encajamos, refugiados en nuestro lugar seguro. Todos construimos una barra de espinas a nuestro alrededor para alejarnos de un daño que acecha con una sonrisa. La protagonista de esta historia es uno de nosotros y eso la convierte en una fuente explosiva de emociones que corre el riesgo de destruir nuestras propias minas de defensa.
Esta historia es dura, cruel, descorazonadora y turbia, muy turbia y, sin embargo, es una narración tan necesaria y deliciosa que te va a dejar una huella difícil de borrar. El desarrollo de esta historia, su inesperado desenlace, sus miles de interpretaciones, lecturas y su puñetazo sobre la mesa de un problema real que a todos nos aterra convierten esta novela en una deliciosa e inesperada maravilla.
Profile Image for Iris ☾ (dreamer.reads).
457 reviews910 followers
November 28, 2019
★★★☆☆ (3,25/5)

Thornhill es el nombre del orfanato donde vive Mary en 1982, una niña que vive en la absoluta soledad y crueldad pues sufre bullying constante. Esta es una niña callada, tranquila, que no molesta a nadie y que crea arte a través de sus manos (hace muñecos de barro y los caracteriza).

Desde hace un tiempo vive angustiada por la persecución y acoso que una de las otras niñas que viven en Thornhill la somete. Conoceremos su historia a través de su diario y por otro lado y en otra línea temporal (2017) conocemos a Ella, una chica que se acaba de mudar enfrente de este misterioso orfanato.

Esta novela combina de manera armoniosa las ilustraciones (presente) y el diario de Mary (pasado), y realmente es un recurso que me ha gustado mucho y me ha resultado muy original. Cada vez veo de forma más natural el hecho de mezclar ilustraciones en la lectura y eso poco a poco me va entusiasmando.

Asimismo este libro me ha parecido muy diferente a lo que suelo leer, no es una novela de terror ni mucho menos pero si que logra calarte en la piel la angustia vívida por su protagonista. Son tantas las situaciones en las que lo he pasado mal imaginándome en primera persona, que en ocasiones me ha costado avanzar en la lectura.

Tiene un final bastante sorprendente y de esos que erizan los vellos de todo el cuerpo mientras te das cuenta de todo lo que ha sucedido casi sin darte cuenta. Pienso que es un libro que me hubiera gustado más en mi adolescencia básicamente por el vocabulario y estilo narrativo (está encarado a un público joven) pero no me han impedido disfrutarlo.

Sin duda alguna, esta es una historia que se lee muy rápido a pesar de las más de 500 páginas que tiene. Os la recomiendo a todos, jóvenes y mayores, hijos y padres... Siempre es bueno leer libros que tratan estos temas para seguir creando conciencia. Además de ser una buena opción para leer en Halloween.

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