Title: Harrow Lake
Author: Kat Ellis
Genre: YA Horror
Publication Date: 9th July 2020
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 Lola’s every move.
The more she 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…
I have been looking forward to reading Harrow Lake ever since I received an incredibly cool proof copy of the book which is made to look like a 90’s video tape! Fortunately, the book proved to be every bit as wonderfully creepy and fun as the cover. The story follows Lola, the daughter of a famous filmmaker who is sent to Harrow Lake after a violent attack on her father. Harrow Lake is her mother’s hometown and where her father filmed his celebrated horror movie, Nightjar. The town is a frankly spooky homage to the film her father made and also full of plenty of it’s own myths and monsters. Things get weirder and weirder the further Lola delves into the mysteries of Harrow Lake.
I don’t read loads of horror, mostly because I’m easily scared, but I’m so fascinated by it and I adore a creepy atmosphere so I really couldn’t resist this book. It is spooky and at times, genuinely frightening, but it is also so much fun to read. Ellis has created one of the most evocative and memorable settings I can remember in Harrow Lake, which is brought completely to life in the readers mind. It is brilliantly weird, a town in which time has basically stopped about a century ago, and full of strange and vivid characters like Lola’s terrifying grandmother whom Lola had no knowledge of before her father’s attack. Lola’s mother is also absent from her life but, due to the fact she was the star of Nightjar, Lorelei is present in every aspect of Harrow Lake. I found Lola’s journey of discovering more about a mother she barely knew really intriguing. Lorelei’s presence is felt wherever Lola goes in the town and as we learn more about her past, things in Lola’s present start to make a lot more sense. Lola’s father is also a looming figure in the book and the relationship between him and Lola is fascinating in the sense that there is something slightly unsettling about it. In fact, there is something rather unsettling about pretty much everything in Harrow Lake.
I don’t want to give anything away about the secrets Harrow Lake is hiding but there is a delicious murkiness about what is real and what is not which I just loved. That, plus the clever pop culture references and the undercurrent of darkness make for a fantastic and addictive read. There is also a real heart to the book at the same time. Lola is a typically self centred and slightly obnoxious teenager but she’s also lost and trying to understand her own history which makes her intensely relatable. I absolutely recommend Harrow Lake, not just to horror fans, but to anyone who enjoys a sinister and smart read.
I was kindly sent a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.