Thornhill by Pam Smy

“All I wanted was a friend.”

I love a good mystery so I was so excited to read Thornhill. At first, I was overwhelmed by the length of the novel, about 530 pages, but Thornhill is unlike any other book I have ever read. Not only is the novel told in two different time periods, 1982 and 2017, but also it is written in two different forms. In 1982, 12 year old Mary tells her story about living in the orphanage Thornhill through her journal entries. Fast forward to 2017, a young girl named Ella has just moved into the house near the now vacant and dilapidated Thornhill. What is fascinating about Ella’s story is it is solely depicted in haunting black and white drawings. Once I began Thornhill, I couldn’t put the novel down and pretty much read it in one sitting.

1982-The bulk of Mary’s story revolves around her relationship with another orphan who lives at Thornhill. Through Mary’s journal entries, she shares how she is tormented and bullied by this girl. At first I felt total pity for Mary, but this feeling began changing to some doubt and uncertainty; since Mary controls the narrative, the reader is only privy to Mary’s point of view, and I was never quite sure of her reliability.

2017-Looking out her window one day, Ella spies a shadow of a girl on the grounds of Thornhill. The eerie yet poignant illustrations reveal Ella’s attempt to uncover what she is really seeing- is a real girl or a ghost? I must admit I hesitated to turn each page for fear of what Ella would discover. Through the drawings, the readers learns a little more about Ella’s life which made my heart break for her.

Towards the end of the novel, Mary’s and Ella’s stories begin to intersect and the harrowing ending gave me chills that remained long after I finished reading, which is precisely what a good thriller should do.

Special thanks to the author Pam Smy for providing our #bookexcursion group with a copy of Thornhill.

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