… perfectly paced and other worldly …
This is a perfectly paced ghost story about a girl living next to a derelict orphanage.
Pam Smy carefully weaves together the stories of two girls in a beguiling mix of diary and illustration. The ghost, Mary, writes heartbreaking entries of her bleak childhood in the diary which is discovered years later by the lonely Ella, whose story is told entirely through unscripted illustrations. With no narrator to help, we are left to piece together the gaps in each story.
Pam then intersperses the diary entries and cartoon narrative with heavy black pages to represent sleep. The cumulative effect of these blanks, combined with the silent illustrations, recreates the detachedness of a lonely childhood and gives the reader delightful pause to think about and guess (deliciously) what might happen next.
The whole effect is intriguing, creepy and otherworldly by turn and builds to a terrific climax.
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. This is the first book she has both written and illustrated. Pam has a blog spot here which traces some of the development of this work.
This is my seventeenth review in the British Books Challenge 2017. Come and join us at over at Chelley Toy’s site.
Thornhill by Pam Smy was published on 24 August 2017 by David Fickling Books in the UK and on 29 August 2017 by Roaring Brook Press in USA.
It was recommended to me by Emily who runs Emily’s Bookshop in Chipping Campden. Thanks, Em!