Thornhill, Pam Smy
A few weeks ago I wrote about Emma Cline’s novel, The Girls, and how deeply unsettling it is. Pam Smy’s gorgeously illustrated novel, Thornhill, is just as atmospheric and unsettling, but for different reasons. It’s the kind of book that’ll keep you up at night wondering about the sounds your house makes. Thornhill is billed for ages 10 – 14, but err on the side of caution when purchasing it for a younger reader. This is not a happy story and it does not end well.
Thornhill is a startling and spooky ghost story in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier but with a bit of a modern twist to it. In Thornhill, Pam Smy tells the parallel stories of two very lonely young girls set in different times but with a Brian Selznick twist to it. The catch? One story arc is told with prose and the other in gorgeously rendered images. Because of this Thornhill can be read all in one sitting, and believe me when I say you won’t want to put it down. Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute in 1982, the year that it’s shutting its doors.
With the threat of losing the only home she knows looming, Mary is left to her own defenses. Fast-forward to 2016. Ella has just moved to Thornhill, a town where she knows no one, with her absentee father. From her bedroom window, Ella has a perfect view of the abandoned Thornhill estate. It’s there that she spots a girl about her age. Determined to befriend her, Ella sets out to find out who the girl is and unearths a shady, decades-old mystery in the process.