Monday, May 15, 2017

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/13

This is one of the weeks where I have just one book to tell you about -- so, just to remind you, this Monday-morning posts lists whatever books I got in the mail the week before, with whatever interesting facts I can glean from them without actually trying to speed-read them on a Sunday.

This week, the book is Thornhill by Pam Smy, a novel/graphic novel hybrid from Roaring Brook, a young-readers imprint of Macmillan. Smy is an illustrator based in the UK, and this is her first novel -- though it's not a traditional all-words novel, but more along the lines of Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck (or his earlier The Invention of Hugo Cabret), in which one story is told in words and a contrasting story is told in pictures, and the two stories merge at the end because otherwise it wouldn't be a novel.

This may be a larger sub-genre than I'm aware of, and possibly Selznick is not even its originator -- but it's clearly a small thing, since writing basically a whole novel and also drawing a hundred-plus full-page illustrations require a particular set of skills that not very many people possess. (From the evidence here, Smy does possess all of those skills.)

The Thornhill of the title is an imposing Victorian edifice, an orphanage in 1982 when Mary is an unhappy inmate there and an abandoned ruin in 2016 when Ella moves in down the street. Mary's story is told in her diary entries; Ella's is told in full-page illustrations that are not entirely unlike comics. I expect there is a supernatural element in play here, but I won't make any predictions as to what that is.

Thornhill is available in hardcover on August 29th -- but you might have to go over to the kids' section of the store to find it.

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