As we near the end of our series of Carngeie and Greenaway reviews, Ann warns us of the perils of reading Greenaway shortlisted Thornhill just before bed!
What the publisher says:
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.
What we say:
I read this last night just before I went to bed, big mistake !
Using a hybrid format of diary entries and illustrated sequences, Thornhill tells the story of two lonely girls across dual timelines. Full of ‘bullies, ghosts and creepy dolls’ (as one newspaper put it) – this contemporary Gothic tale leaves you with much to think about.
The illustrated sequences have an eerie quality: As Mary’s story is revealed in heartbreaking diary entries, Ella’s exploration of the modern day Thornhill is told in silent monochromatic freeze frame. The effect can be deeply disturbing.
Empty black pages separate the written and illustrated sequences and divide the past from the present. They create a nice pause in between the two narratives, preventing the reader from rushing too quickly through the developing mystery – as with all good creepy tales pacing is everything!
Smy’s bold illustrative style combines observational drawing with a strong design aesthetic. Her imposing facades and lingering images of overgrown gardens (particularly the images used on the front cover and the endpapers) sit comfortably alongside incredibly detailed interiors and expressive character studies.
The overall feeling is cinematic and ominous. The atmospheric and emotional illustrations ooze tension and reward the reader with a suitably ambiguous climax and chilling denouement.
I’ve never read a book like it – totally absorbing!
Watch Pam Smy speaking about Thornhill on the CKG shadowing site: http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/watch.php?id=15
You can view the full Carnegie and Kate Greenaway 2018 shortlists here: