- Megan Bingham
In 1982, Mary—an orphan—is growing up in the Thornhill Institute for Children, which is currently in its last days of business. Mary's few friends in the institute have either been adopted or assigned to another orphanage. Poor Mary spends most of her days alone, creating precious dolls that are her only company. She has been terrorized by another orphan who constantly bullies her, along with the other girls. When the bully returns to Thornhill after a foster family returns her, Mary tries to make the best of it with the help of a caregiver. But, unfortunately, the bullying, along with the struggles with abandonment, has lasting effects on Mary . . . and Thornhill itself.
In the present day, young Ella has moved in next door to the crumbling Thornhill Institute. Like Mary, Ella is used to feeling abandoned. Her father works, while her mother is long gone. Ella consistently awakes to an empty house and comes home to an empty house. When she spies the figure of a girl from her upstairs bedroom window, Ella is quick to explore Thornhill's ruins to find out who she is. Is she Ella's age? Is she as alone as Ella? Is she even alive?
Although the stories are parallel, Smy has portrayed each differently: Ella's story is told through pictures, while Mary's story is told through words. While you unravel the mystery of Mary's tragic life, you're doing the same with Ella—just visually. Thornhill is a ghost story, but it's also a story of human connection, filled with tragic twists and turns.