Books Reviewed / Middle Grade

Thornhill by Pam Smy: A #BookReview

Thornhill by Pam Smy: A #BookReviewThornhill by Pam Smy
Published by Roaring Brook Press on 29 August 2017
Genres: MG Horror
Pages: 234
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Parallel plotlines, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door.Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it's closing down for good. But when a bully goes too far, Mary's revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

Years later, Ella moves to a new town where she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute. Determined to befriend the mysterious, evasive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's history and uncover its secrets.

Ella's story is told through striking, bold art; Mary's is told through diary entries. Each informs the other until the two eventually intersect to reveal the truth behind Thornhill's shadowy past, once and for all. Strikingly told and masterfully illustrated, Pam Smy bends genres and expectations alike.

H O R R O R  is definitely not a genre I read, but this novel for Middle Graders by Pam Smy definitely intrigued me when I saw it come into the library. Check out my thoughts below!

 Library Book 
Middle Grade Graphic Novel?/Horror   
Roaring Brook Press
Published: Aug 2017
$19.99 (hardcover, full-price)
Place: Amazon,  B & N, Book DepositoryGoodReads, IndieBound

Synopsis from GoodReads:

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.


Thornhill by Pam Smy was an unexpected read. I saw it come through at the library and it definitely intrigued me. I wasn’t aware that it was a Juvenile or Middle Grade book, but I’m actually quite glad that it was.

The story follows the lives of two girls: one in photos and one through prose. Mary had lived during the 1980s and Ella, the girl in the illustrations, was living in 2016. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the two stories. Both girls were experiencing some of the same feelings of loneliness, but Mary’s story was a lot more gripping then Ella’s. Ella seemed to almost be discovering Mary’s story while Mary was living her story.

I felt really bad for Mary and what she had to go through. It was sad to read about her life with the other girls at the orphanage. Mary had a lot to struggle through, but she also found joy in her creativity. It turned pretty dark at the end.

This story was dark. It was not a happy story with a happy ending. It was a sad story with a sad ending. It was definitely something I don’t normally read, so it was really refreshing for me. It was also refreshing for the age group as well. I haven’t read a lot of horror in general, but I’ve read even less when it comes to Middle Grade books. Most of the horror I’ve come across is usually in YA fiction. It was nice that some authors and publishers are writing horror for the younger age group outside of the infamous Goosebumps books or even the Bunicula books. (Also if you know any MG horror or even Elementary horror, please let me know!)

With that said, I as a reader still wasn’t expecting the ending. I should have knowing that this was a darker story and slated as a horror novel, but still my brain is always trained to expected a happy ending of some kind or a hopeful ending. This story had neither.

Overall, this novel really held my interested. I kept wanting to know what would happen by the end. Ella and Mary’s stories were both intriguing; although, Ella’s didn’t pick up until the end. While this novel was promoted as a horror, I didn’t find it as creepy as some others might have wanted it to be. I think overall it came across more of a psychological horror story then a scary or creepy one. I think that if you go into this novel with this in mind, it will be a good read for you. If you’re expecting to be scared or creeped out, I’d say that this isn’t going to deliver that for you.

In the end, this was a quick entertaining read for me. It’s most likely not something I’ll reread, but I’ll definitely keep it in my arsenal for Reader’s Advisory questions I may get for horror books or even reluctant readers.

Have you read Thornhill? What are your thoughts about it’s take on horror? What about that ending? Have you read any other MG horror books? Let me know in the comments below! 

Happy Reading!

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