TITLE: Harrow Lake
BY: Kat Ellis
GENRE: Young Adult, Thriller, Horror
PUBLICATION: July 9th 2020 by Penguin
Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot.
The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.
And there’s someone – or something – stalking her every move.
The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.
In my previous review, I said I love small-town romances. Now, let me say that I also enjoy small town thrillers/horror stories. For me, setting a horror/thriller in a small town makes it more atmospheric. And for that, Harrow Lake didn’t disappoint.
A beginning that hooks the reader…
The story started with a transcript and it sets the mood right away. The blurb already suggested that Harrow Lake would be eerie and thrilling but the transcript is what really sets the atmosphere. It what hooked me right into the story. And the atmosphere didn’t change till the end. In fact, the story only gets more and more intense as it progresses.
A story that keeps surprising…
Harrow Lake, the small town, is the perfect setting for the story. It has all the right elements — the history, the myths and legends, the mysterious townies and lack of modernization. What surprised me though is the author’s amazing writing style. Kat Ellis carefully picks locations in Harrow Lake that’s perfect for each scene. She also uses the same descriptions and even terms. With her style, Harrow Lake just became one of the scariest settings I’ve ever read.
But of course, the setting isn’t everything. The plot itself is very intriguing. Right from the start, there are are so many questions I want answered. And as the story progresses, the doubts increases and I found myself more eager to keep reading even if it gets really scary and I started reading at midnight.
It is a good thing that the book is told entirely from Lola’s perspective, except for the transcripts. It makes most of the elements in the story vague. There are so many things that I was intrigued by right from the start, like Lola’s real relationship with her father. I was so intrigued by that since chapter one. But as with most protagonists/narrators in this kind of genre, Lola isn’t reliable all the time, which makes the reveals truly surprising. Speaking of Lola…
A main character that grows on you…
Lola is not someone you’ll root for from the start, but she sure grows on me. I found her character really intriguing. I know there’s so much more to her than what she’s showing or telling, and it’s easier to see that as the story progresses. But wow, I definitely wasn’t expecting that reveal in her character. I like it when a character surprises me.
As for the side characters, my favorite was Cora. I like her guts and she stayed true to her character till the very end. I couldn’t say the same for Carter, Cora’s brother and served as Lola’s kind of love interest. He’s okay but his personality is somehow lacking. Lola’s grandma is creepy for me and that’s all I can say about her. Other two characters that I would’ve wanted more from were Grant and Ranger Crane, both were Lola’s mom’s friends in Harrow Lake. They’re two characters who the readers might or might not suspect about something and I won’t say more to avoid spoiling anything.
As for Nolan, Lola’s father. He’s an interesting character. He’s not always in the scenes but in Lola’s head, her father is always there. In every scenes, Nolan is always in Lola’s mind telling her what she should do and don’t. His influence to her makes Lola for what she is. It’s freaky the way Lola clings to her father that way and the reveal at the end will make it clear.
An eventful ending BUT…
I do love the ending, or more accurately I loved the events that lead up to it. But I wanted more from the ending, like about Lola. Sure, I know what she’d become after Harrow Lake. But I didn’t know what happened after she got out of that climactic event. I wanted to know what she did next after she realized everything.
RATING: 3.5 blissful pages with lilies
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kat Ellis is the author of YA novels Purge, Blackfin Sky, and Breaker, and the novella The Twins Of Blackfin in the Three Strikes collection. Her next book, Harrow Lake, will be published in the summer of 2020.
You’ll usually find Kat up to no good on Twitter, trekking through ruins and cemeteries with her camera, or watching scary films with her husband.
Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.