Book - 2017
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"Parallel plotlines set in different times, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door"-- Provided by publisher.
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.
2016: 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, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.
Publisher: New York :, Roaring Brook Press,, 2017
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9781626726543
Characteristics: 533 pages : black and white illustrations ; 22 cm


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Aug 13, 2018

This is something completely different than what I usually read, this was a good read, and I would definitely recommend this to my friends. This book has a lot of picture pages and I was not used to that. I didn't like that it didn't have a resolution or a good ending. Overall 4 star rating.

Jul 03, 2018


I loved this book! I think that the illustration were amazing and I felt like I was reading a real diary and that I could feel Mary's emotion in every word. It's was definitely a page turning book and I hope that Pam Smy makes a 'THORNHILL 2' , if she does I would MOST CERTAINLY read it!

May 27, 2018

I definitely would put this on the same scary-caliber shelf as Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" - this story has a seemingly innocent "eerie" vibe that will appeal to a lot of younger audiences. However, if you read between the lines and really let things sink in, it gives off that same insidious, unnerving aura.

Props to the kiddos who don't get nightmares after this one.

CatherineG_1 Apr 15, 2018

I loved this teen graphic novel about two girls both trying to fit in and not succeeding. As another reviewer said the art work fits so well with Ella's story. Mary's written diary shows a young woman in need of love and understanding but instead she is tormented by an absolute bully who instead makes people think she is the innocent one.
Ella as she reads Mary's diary 25 years later, finds a kindred spirit through the story.
The secret garden story and connection to the story was well done.
The ending makes you wonder how Jacob will do in the house?

Feb 09, 2018

Thornhill is listed as a recommended book for children which is inappropriate. It is 533 pages and clearly a book for teens.

Jan 11, 2018

Two lonely lives reach across time and space to form a bond, bringing comfort and friendship to two forgotten teens. Tormented and alone Mary finally reaches a point of no return. Life among her incredible creations is no longer enough. Her counterpart, Ella, discovers her diary and travels towards a meeting. Being able to have this accessible on-line as an ebook was a great advantage, the illustrations came across beautifully.

JCLChrisK Jan 02, 2018

An attractively dark package containing an alternating, linked pair of haunting stories, one text without pictures and one illustrations without words. Atmospheric and creepy.

Nov 28, 2017

Great story and illustrations. It’s a quick read but worth it.

ArapahoeKati Nov 27, 2017

I loved the mix of part novel plus part graphic novel because it really upped the creep factor. Awesome illustrations! I blew through reading this in one evening.

samcmar Nov 18, 2017

Thornhill is easily the creepiest middle grade book I've read. Hands down. It's a book that is spooky, unnerving, and heartbreaking. It's a story from two perspectives, Mary Baines who is writing a diary in 1982 while living in Thornhill Institute, and in present day we have Ella, who has moved next door to the historical site and becomes entranced by the idea of uncovering the mystery behind the building.

What makes this novel even more interesting is that Mary's sections are written as a diary, and Ella's are fully illustrated without dialogue. Mary's sections are difficult to read given they focus on her lack of friendship, her deeply rooted abandonment problems, and that she has been bullied her whole life. Her diary entries are dark and uncomfortable to read. You really feel for her even though towards the end of the book you see that her sanity and emotions are deteriorating. I really felt for her.

Meanwhile, Ella continues to see Mary from her window, which is why she becomes fascinated by Thornhill. She even breaks in the abandoned building because she is convinced she has seen a young girl from her window. She leaves Mary messages and gifts. She wants to befriend her. What I loved in Ella's sections is that Smy's illustrations do a great job of capturing the emotions and intent behind the story. You get a sense that Ella has empathy for Mary and wants to gain a sense of understanding so many years later. The art is mostly great, though it has some awkward moments as well.

Thornhill is a book that is very dark and comes from a deeply emotional place. It's not for reader's looking for a whimsy time, and that's where I'd recommend this to older middle grade readers who can understand concepts such as bullying and death. The ending hurts, and there's no other way to describe it. Pam Smy's Thornhill is a unique but difficult read. Reader's need to be in a particular headspace to really grasp how loaded this story truly is.

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