Rajiv's Reviews

Thornhill by Pam Smy

book00007Thornhill by Pam Smy
Released: August 29th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Source: Amazon

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.

I loved how this book tells two stories in parallel from two different time frames, one through prose that happens in 1982, and the other through illustrations occurring in 2017. Coming to the story told through prose, the story is described in a simple manner through the diary entries of Mary, and how she struggles being bullied by one of the girls in Thornhill institute. As the story progressed, I was eagerly looking forward to Mary getting her revenge on the other girl who tormented and bullied her so much. While some people may find this book too negative because things don’t happen for Mary as you would like it to, it does depict the sad truth we face in our daily lives, where we realize that sometimes bad things happen, and you really cannot do anything to stop it, no matter how hard you try. It made me realize how many people there would be out there, who are extremely talented in their own way, but due to their circumstances, they really don’t get the recognition they deserve. However, having said this, I do wish that the story showed something nasty happening to the other girl, just to get a sense of satisfaction for the reader that she got what she deserved.

While I loved the illustrations depicting the present day story, the story itself did not make much sense to me. There are many questions I feel were not answered, like

  • Why is Ella curious to find out about Mary? Are they related?
  • Why is Ella sad? Did her parents get divorced and she does not have friends?

Perhaps these answers are depicted in the illustrations, but I couldn’t understand the reason for Ella’s motivation for going through all that trouble to find out more about Mary. However, the details in these illustrations themselves are hauntingly beautiful and I had to pause to look at each of them to admire the author’s talent.
Some of my favorite ones are:




This book isn’t really scary in terms of creating a gothic atmosphere, but it did leave me with a sense of discomfort and sadness upon finishing it. It is gripping and short enough to finish in one sitting, and I wouldn’t mind reading it again in the future.


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