Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.
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.
2017: 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 and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.
Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2017
A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Kids
A 2018 ALSC Notable Children's Book
A VOYA Top of the Shelf Pick
Pam Smy studied Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, part of Anglia Ruskin University, where she now lectures part-time. Pam has illustrated books by Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Julia Donaldson (Follow the Swallow) and Kathy Henderson (Hush, Baby, Hush!), among others. She lives in Cambridge.
"The book will certainly pull lovers of ghost stories, narrative illustration and creepy dolls into its dark pages, to revel in its scares and ambiguities."—The New York Times Book Review
"Atmospheric and emotional in an understated way... Beautiful, moody, sad, and spooky—all at once."—Kirkus, starred review
"All levels of readers—from reluctant readers to adults—will find themselves flying through these pages"—VOYA, starred review
"This British import is a stunner"—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
"A chilling tale that highlights the importance of kindness and child advocacy while emphasizing the lasting damage wrought by abuse and neglect."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The suspenseful ghost story and the highly visual format make for an undeniable page-turner, but text and illustrations alike reward careful attention with telling details. Gothic fiction serves as inspiration for both the book’s style and the imaginations of its protagonists (check out the books and posters in Ella’s bedroom), and Smy does the genre proud.” —Horn Book
“[An] intriguing ghost story with an ending that chills to the bone . . . An excellent selection for middle schoolers and reluctant readers.” —School Library Journal
“Pam Smy has created a wonderful piece of work in Thornhill. The drawings are full of atmosphere, the words are full of tension and emotion all the more powerful for being so sparingly revealed. . . . A story of friendship and courage and of the power of black-and-white images. I think it’s terrific.” –Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy