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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  9,799 ratings  ·  2,016 reviews
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, Ell
Kindle Edition, 234 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Roaring Brook Press (first published August 24th 2017)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,799 ratings  ·  2,016 reviews

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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
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! ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
To see the full review, please visit

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 orph
Sean Barrs
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

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
Hannah Greendale
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.
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
That was freaking sad! Some kids are dicks!!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Creeeeeeeepy. Loved the mix of illustrations and diary entries!
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
So while this book isn't really aimed at my age group I still thought Thornhill was pretty blooming brilliant and deliciously spooky. As someone who loves a big old creepy building this tale of two young girls, one in 1982 one in 2017, one in a care home for children the other living in a house that backs on to its now abandoned self, is properly chilling especially with its twist at the end. I really enjoyed it. So will many people of all ages. Spook-tacular. Sorry couldn't help it. ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
“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.

Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: october-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
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).
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, horror
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. 
Jordaline Vulva
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well that was fucked up.
Rachel Reads Ravenously
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 aband
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Emm - "That Book You Like is Coming Back in Style"
Thornhill, in which the past and present are webbed together in faded cruelties and a loneliness that runs deep to the heart.
A beautiful, but more tragic than terrifying sort of ghost story where atmos clings like the mist behind the rain.

The past is told in the form of a diary, the present in the form of images - a girl, Ella, moves into a house in 2017 with a view of the ruins of an orphanage across the fence, which keeps the forgotten story of a girl, Mary, who lived there in the 1980's.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 f ...more
A picture is worth a thousand words and that is certainly the case for Thornhill. The story of Mary and Ella alternate between past and present, illustrations and diary entries.

For me, the illustrations were the best part of the book. They were beautiful, eerie and atmospheric. Words weren't needed to figure out Ella's story.

However, I felt the opposite about the diary entries. There were moments of mild success but overall there was nothing particularly great about them.

By the end, when the t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
♥ Sandi ❣
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
Ivonne Rovira
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of suspense
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
It would be entirely too easy to say too much about Thornhill, the first novel Pan Smy has both written and illustrated. But this is a novel best approached cold, as I did.

Mary Baines, a 13-year-old girl so traumatized that she has virtually stopped speaking, at Thornhill Institute for Children, a gothic pile that is slated to be closed. The orphans have been gradually placed, but trembling, mute Mary has found no foster home — nor has the beautiful bully who torments her. Her story is told thro
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 ...more
Lauren Green
Easily just become one of my favourites!

I got about a quarter of the way through this book and then I just couldn't put it down. This graphic novel, with the use of pictures and diary entries in the book, allowed two parallel stories, from different time periods to be told alongside one another until their journies finally crossed.

This story is about a lonely orphan girl named Mary and all she wants is a friend, however, it's not an easy task for a selective mute. She records all her thoughts an
4 creeped-out stars.

I'm tagging this as a graphic novel, but that's not quite right--it's a story written as a diary, with added illustrations (the illustrations are important to the plot, though). It's dark and gothic, exploring bullying, loneliness, and anger. The illustrations are a delight and really add to the melancholy of the story.

This is a quick, sad read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark tales.
This book is intended for readers much younger than me, but ghost story graphic novels are in such short supply, I couldn't resist it regardless.

The scene-setting part of the story, set in 1982, is told through the diary entries of a young girl in a care home, Thornhill. Mary is mute, and she prefers to spend most of her time alone in her room, making and playing with her beloved dolls. Her oddness makes her a target for bullies, and one girl in particular contrives to torment her in every possi
I feel like this book was written for child-Kate. Orphans, creepiness, gothic boarding school/institute/asylum vibe, secret garden, sad lonely children. It's hitting so many sweet spots. Plus the illustrations! Fantastic. But I'm not sure who I'll give this's kind of intense. I'll be keeping my eyes open for a little weirdo who likes to pretend they've been abandoned and scratches the days off on a brick wall like a prisoner. ...more
Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden set in 1982 and 2017. It's creepy, delicious modern-set gothic horror. The art is fantastic, the story completely engrossing, and a super fast read.

Ghosts! Dolls! An old as hell creepy abandoned house! There's so much to love. All the trope-y goodness.
Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tt-reads
Wonderfully creepy, hauntingly sad and an art style that enhances the story. Just loved this one.
re-read August 2020!
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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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