Thornhill by Pam Smy


Thornhill by Pam Smy

Thornhill was a chilling tale of friendship and the sole, powerful force that is loneliness. This dark novel tells two haunting tales, one set in the present that is told through writing, the other set in 1982 when the Thornhill Institute was still a healthy business.

The style was very satisfying and dark, sticking with the tone of the story, I personally enjoyed the style and the atmosphere it transmitted. The written parts of this book are formatted like diary entries, with a date and year. This makes the book quite fast and easy to read that makes it appealing for middle-grade as well as young adult readers.

The story starts when the teen Ella moves to the small town where the Thornhill Institute resides when she starts to unpack the boxes she brought from her former house she notices a figure that is staring at him from the grounds of a wrecked building.  She becomes curious and wants to resolve the mystery that this town hides. Meanwhile in 35 years in the past in 1982 the 13-year-old Mary Baines is living in the Thornhill Institute when it was still active and lives in harshly as she is a victim of bullying and hatred. Her only hope resides in making her dolls in her small but cosy room, being inspired by the few books that she owns. However, she cannot sleep with the tapping noises that are produced from her, the person that hates Mary uncontrollably. But as these to stories intertwine the story slowly start to take a more chilling, dark form.

Overall this book was a 4-star for me, the plot was well woven and the art in this book was marvellous, as well as the dark writing in Mary’s perspective.  As well as being entertaining Thornhill made me reflect on many things, and how people that suffer bullying fell as well as what loneliness and fear can do to a young person. The writing style is quite dark atmospheric, and when woven with the illustrations it makes for a dark, atmospheric and thought-provoking read. The only thing that I will say about this book is that it is not that creepy or scary as you may desire, so if you are looking for a classic horror story this may not fully satisfy your tastes.

Being a fan of Brian Selznick, this can be associated with his books due to the format and style, however, this is marketed as a horror story when Brian Selznick’s tales are more inspirational and light. So I recommend this to all readers of Brian Selznick and people who have a will to stay up all night reading a fantastic book.

Happy Reading!

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 13)

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Hannah Gough