Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thornhill, by Pam Smy

Ella Clarke is the new girl in town. She's lonely. Her mom is gone and her dad works long hours and is rarely home. More than anything, Ella wishes for a friend. And it looks as if her wish may come true. One day Ella spies what looks to be a girl her age hanging around the creepy abandoned mansion next door. Curious and hopeful, Ella investigates.

And what she finds is nothing like she expected.

Scattered about the yard of the house next door, resting against the old statues and half-hidden by vines, Ella finds hand-made dolls. Were they left for her by the mysterious girl? Maybe. Ella begins repairing and returning the dolls only to find more. 

Then one day Ella finds a key. 

And this key leads her to the attic of the house where she first glimpsed the girl.

And in that attic she finds the girl's diary.

And within the diary's pages is a decade's-old tale of horror and torment beyond imagining. 

If Ella isn't careful, history will repeat itself.

I picked up Pam Smy's odd novel Thornhill not really knowing what to expect other than it had a "mystery' sticker on the spine. I remember the book being compared to Wonderstruck (Selznick). And it's true the format is similar in that the dual perspectives alternate between text and pictures. But Thornhill is a far darker tale. And I wouldn't exactly call the ending "happy". Open-ended, yes. Cliffhanger even? Perhaps. But not happy (and I recall Wonderstruck ending on an upbeat). 

To say much more would spoil everything. You'll just have to read it for yourself. And I definitely recommend doing so. --AJB

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