I saw this book recommended somewhere or other and thought the formatting looked quite intriguing. This story follows two timelines. Mary’s story is set in 1982, while Ella’s is set in the present (2017). Mary’s story is told through her diary entries, while Ella’s story is told entirely through illustrations. This method worked very well, and also made the book read quite quickly. I loved the way that the sections were divided by two solid black pages each time. All the illustrations are in grayscale as well, which adds to the atmosphere of the story.
The two tales are connected because Mary is living in a children’s home in an old, large house called Thornhill. Her diary entries talk about how the home is going to be closed and she isn’t sure what is going to happen to her. In the meantime, she is suffering a great deal because of a terrible bully in her life. In 2017, Ella moves into a house whose back yard backs up to Thornhill, now abandoned. Ella sees strange goings-on in the abandoned house and starts to explore what is happening. Ella’s mother is not in the picture (presumably dead), and her father is buried in his work, leaving Ella alone a great deal of the time.
From the beginning I realized that this was supposed to be a sort of creepy/horror book, but it’s also a children’s book. To that end, I felt like this book’s ending crossed a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. More details concerning the ending (so, big spoiler) below.
While I found this book completely gripping while I was reading it, and was anxious to see what was going to happen next to both girls. But the ending just ruined this book for me, so I ended up only going 2/5 and not particularly recommending it. I loved the formatting, but just couldn’t get behind the story’s message.