Review: Thornhill by Pam Smy

“We are the voiceless ones.”

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

This tale set in alternate times, one told in words and the other in drawings, sounded right up my alley when I discovered it back in May. In particular because it reminded me a lot of  Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, which had a similar format of storytelling that I loved. Unlike that one, though, Thornhill is a creepy and disquieting ghost story. That is to say: I was racing to finish reading it before sunset because I’m not about to be scared out of leaving my bedroom… again, since ghosts are one of my greatest fears, thanks to watching the horrendous film called The Sixth Sense at night when I was just eight years old. (I thought at the time that I was brave and cool and that it wouldn’t be as eerie as the blurb made it seem.) (Oh, how wrong I was.)

“I like the noise of being surrounded by a group. It’s as though there are little stories whizzing around—dreams of pop groups and boyfriends, gossip about eyeliner and shoes and teachers. I don’t have to join in, but still I feel part of their gang—on the edges looking in, watching, listening, but happy to be included.”

Circling back to the book, a pleasant surprise came to me with the drawings, which wasn’t what I expected in terms of style before reading. I feel like ages have passed since I last sat down and enjoyed a proper book. But I was a bit disheartened to see that the art was on the lower side compared to the prose. Overtime, I actually came to look forward most to what the story would convey through these black and white drawings.

Thornhill 1-- bookspoilsThornhill 2-- bookspoils

Thornhill 3-- bookspoils

Thornhill 4-- bookspoils

Thornhill 5-- bookspoils

Thornhill 6-- bookspoils

Thornhill 7-- bookspoils

But for now I’m definitely on the lookout for a more lighthearted read after the eeriness left by Thornhill. I mean, that ending surely raised the hair on the back of my neck. Shudders.

3/5 stars

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Review: The Creeps by Fran Krause

I had no idea that Fran Krause’s Deep Dark Fears would have a follow up when I read it earlier this month, so I was beyond excited to find out about this newest collection. Here he brings readers more of the creepy, funny, and idiosyncratic fears they love illustrated in comic form–such as the fear that your pets will tell other animals all your embarrassing secrets, or that someone uses your house while you’re not home–as well as two longer comic short-stories about ghosts.

I definitely recommend reading The Creeps at nighttime, similar to how you would watch a scary movie in the dark, to get the most out of it. However, since I’m a scaredy cat I didn’t really let the fears mentioned in this collection sink in because I like my sleep and my sanity. But as expected even that didn’t really work in my favor because I ended up having trouble falling asleep thanks to those creepy “someone’s standing at the window” illustrations. (I sleep near a window.)

So when I woke up in the middle of the night and was too scared to even open my eyes… not going to lie, it made me a bit resentful towards the collection. But on the other hand, it’s a job well done from the author. And I’m grateful for those handful of comical moments included to lighten the mood a bit.

Oh, and here are some of the more intriguing fears in the collection:

The Creeps 7-- bookspoils

 

The Creeps 1-- bookspoils

 

The Creeps 2-- bookspoils

 

The Creeps 3-- bookspoils

 

The Creeps 4-- bookspoilsI hate the above fear with all my heart.

The Creeps 5-- bookspoilsI’m just astonished at the fact that adults would scare little kids without a second thought. That shit will stay with them for years…

The Creeps 6-- bookspoils


Overall, I’m ecstatic that Fran Krause gave us another memorable collection of fears and creeps. And I definitely hope they’ll keep on coming.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: September 26th, 2017

 3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Creeps, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause

Disclaimer: I had to read this with the lights on.

Truth to be told, the more I think about this collection, the more I recall how much I actually enjoyed reading it, which was the last emotion I was anticipating to feel with this read. Deep Dark Fears explores our odd, creepy, and hilariously singular fears. Animator, illustrator, and cartoonist Fran Krause brings these fears to life in vividly illustrated comics based on real fears submitted by readers (plus a few of his own).

I didn’t have any expectations going into this, except maybe worrying that the fears in here wouldn’t be relatable or dark enough for me, but they were both…and so much more. Like, I was so engrossed that I jumped out of my skin about halfway through when I heard a dripping sound from the shower head in the bathroom next door.

I’m also laughing at myself for researching earlier today about experiencing better dreams, but then deciding to read this book of fears at night when it clearly stated on the website the need to “destress” before bed… And there being a lot of talk about ghosts probably wasn’t the best to read at nighttime, or was it?

Anyway, all this is to say that I had a devilishly fun time reading this collection of 101 comics that explores our most gruesome, hilarious, and bizarre fears — and the dangers lurking around every corner.
Here are some of my favorites:

Deep Dark Fears 1-- bookspoils

 

Deep Dark Fears 2-- bookspoils

 

Deep Dark Fears 3-- bookspoilsI’m this close to having an exstitensial crisis with the above.

Deep Dark Fears 4-- bookspoils

 

Deep Dark Fears 5-- bookspoilsGenuinely had a conversation with my mom about this afterwards.

Deep Dark Fears 6-- bookspoilsThe above made me laugh because I usually try to do the opposite, so they don’t have time to hide…

Deep Dark Fears 7-- bookspoilsDeep Dark Fears 8-- bookspoilsThis low-key fucked with my head.

Deep Dark Fears 9-- bookspoilsDeep Dark Fears 10-- bookspoils

 

Deep Dark Fears 11-- bookspoilsOk. So I can clearly see the number six in here, but I can’t catch anything in the below…Deep Dark Fears 12-- bookspoils I’ve been looking for ages now.


All in all: Deep Dark Fears was quite the revelation for me. And since I don’t do well with scary stuff, I’m interested to see how I’ll do after this…

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Deep Dark Fears, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!