Thornhill by Pam Smy

Feels Like: Stephen King’s Carrie character was sent to boarding school and is still getting bullied.

Step into the world, past and present, of Thornhill Institute. Told in letters from an orphan, Mary, living at Thornhill in the 80’s and illustrations through the point of view of a modern day next door neighbor, Ella, Thornhill is a different kind of graphic novel.

“Reading Thornhill is a lot like exploring an abandoned house- it’s dark, you make assumptions about what you’re going to experience next, but you don’t know quite where the story is going to go.” – GoodReads Reviewer Elizabeth

With each turn of the page, through Ella’s point of view, we follow a cinematic-like visual which gives the reader the sensation that a jump scare is around every corner. Pam Smy both authors and illustrates Thornhill and shows the loneliness and heartbreak of two similar little girls through their own eyes.


This story ends the way you might expect; in a shocking encounter which ends with the death of Ella amongst the ashes of Thornhill set ablaze by either the mysterious lightning storm raging outside or Mary herself. Quite a few readers have stated that they are disappointed with the way that Thornhill ends. I, unfortunately, have to agree with them. I would feel more satisfied in the union of these two lonely little girls if we had more of Ella’s backstory.

Through the illustrations, we can see that she is alone most times. Her mother has either passed away or is no longer in the picture and her father is apparently away working most of the time. While it’s interesting to get one point of view in writing and the other solely through illustration, I felt absolutely no connection to Ella and was left unfulfilled when she ends up dying at the end despite the fact that she and Mary have finally found peace within each other.

In the final pages, we see that yet another child has moved into the house next door. Unsurprisingly, we are led to believe that this child might fall into Mary’s trap just like Ella. We do, however, see the two girls holding hands and smiling at the end so hopefully Mary will leave this final child alone.

Overall this was a fun read and did give me chills once or twice. While I feel like I know next to nothing about Ella, I made a genuine connection with Mary’s character. I’d recommend this book but not if you’re looking for a genuine haunted house story in the traditional sense.

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