Book - 2017 | First American edition
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"Parallel plotlines set in different times, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door"-- Provided by publisher.
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.
Publisher: New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2017
Edition: First American edition
Branch Call Number: FICTION SMY
Characteristics: 533 pages : black and white illustrations ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9781626726543


From Library Staff

This illustrated novel surprised me with its level of eeriness. A nice, quick read that gave me the same feeling I used to have when reading "Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark" as a child.

Ella has moved into a new house - but there's something wrong with the abandoned house next door. This book uses interspersed art and text formats to tell a ghost story that bridges time.

A boarded-up orphanage holds a chilling secret. One girl is determined to find out what it is.

From the critics

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Jul 12, 2019

Thornhill is an amazing book. It's a tale filled with horror and mystery and kept me up until I finished reading. Definitely recommend this book.

Hillsboro_RobP Jan 17, 2019

As creepy as the look of the book would lead you to believe, and with an author who's not afraid to pursue the ending she's looking for, even if it is for kids.
What at first seems fun and simple- a graphic novel present and the past told in diary entries, I think this book is more clever than it first appears. Who's really the villain in this story? Which aspects are frightening? Smy toys with tropes and expectations both visually and with the plot in a way that doesn't interfere with spooky little story.
Keep in mind though, the past portion is in the 1980's. I had a hard time not mentally placing it further back than that.

Dec 05, 2018

A young girl, a diary, and a creepy or orphanage will give you chills with this illustrated ghost story. --Taylor (for more of Taylor's suggestions, follow WoodneathTaylor in the catalog.)

Becca Levin
Oct 16, 2018

This particular item is one of my favorites for new reads - especially if you're looking for something scary but aren't quite ready for something like Coraline. The half-graphic, half-journal entry format makes it easy to complete and follow along. Don't be daunted by its size!

Fantastic book. For spookier times of year, this is perfect.

Aug 13, 2018

This is something completely different than what I usually read, this was a good read, and I would definitely recommend this to my friends. This book has a lot of picture pages and I was not used to that. I didn't like that it didn't have a resolution or a good ending. Overall 4 star rating.

Jul 03, 2018


I loved this book! I think that the illustration were amazing and I felt like I was reading a real diary and that I could feel Mary's emotion in every word. It's was definitely a page turning book and I hope that Pam Smy makes a 'THORNHILL 2' , if she does I would MOST CERTAINLY read it!

May 27, 2018

I definitely would put this on the same scary-caliber shelf as Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" - this story has a seemingly innocent "eerie" vibe that will appeal to a lot of younger audiences. However, if you read between the lines and really let things sink in, it gives off that same insidious, unnerving aura.

Props to the kiddos who don't get nightmares after this one.

CatherineG_1 Apr 15, 2018

I loved this teen graphic novel about two girls both trying to fit in and not succeeding. As another reviewer said the art work fits so well with Ella's story. Mary's written diary shows a young woman in need of love and understanding but instead she is tormented by an absolute bully who instead makes people think she is the innocent one.
Ella as she reads Mary's diary 25 years later, finds a kindred spirit through the story.
The secret garden story and connection to the story was well done.
The ending makes you wonder how Jacob will do in the house?

Feb 09, 2018

Thornhill is listed as a recommended book for children which is inappropriate. It is 533 pages and clearly a book for teens.

Jan 11, 2018

Two lonely lives reach across time and space to form a bond, bringing comfort and friendship to two forgotten teens. Tormented and alone Mary finally reaches a point of no return. Life among her incredible creations is no longer enough. Her counterpart, Ella, discovers her diary and travels towards a meeting. Being able to have this accessible on-line as an ebook was a great advantage, the illustrations came across beautifully.

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