written and illustrated by Pam Smy
David Fickling Books 2017
544 pages in hardback
greytone illustrations throughout
a darkly alluring mix of art & words
Summary from hive.co.uk
As she unpacks in her new bedroom, Ella is irresistibly drawn to the big old house that she can see out of her window.
Surrounded by overgrown gardens, barbed wire fences and ‘keep out’ signs, it looks derelict.
But that night, a light goes on in one of the windows. And the next day she sees a girl in the grounds. Ella is hooked. The house has a story to tell. She is sure of it. Enter Thornhill, Institute for Children, and discover the dark secrets that lie within.But once inside, will you ever leave?
I was so excited when I unwrapped a package for David Fickling Books and out popped Thornhill. You may have seen my reaction on Twitter. I had already come across Pam Smy‘s artwork for Siobhan Dowd’s Ransom of Dond and loved it. Would this be as brilliant?
Being thrilled was no mistake – it’s a corker of a book. I love how the two stories of Ella and the girl in the window are entwined – using both text and image. It has the power of the graphic novel running side-by-side with an unsettling written tale.
In my head, it’s like one of those BBC Christmas ghost stories from years ago. A sinister narration plays as you watch an unnerving black and white sequence of images. The pictures complement the sentences perfectly.
Neither should be approached by the easily-distressed – but they will be appreciated by lovers of dark and disturbing beauty. You can’t stop ‘watching’ the events unfold. High quality production makes this a book to treasure and return to. Thank you, DFB and Pam Smy. This one stays in the library.