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If you asked me how many horror-y books I’ve read over the last few years, I’d probably be able to count them on one hand. I’m completely adverse to the horror genre. In fact, I was a huge horror fan as a kid devouring Goosebumps and Point Horror on the regular. But now? I’m a big wimp. Still, I was determined to break out of my comfort zone and try to read a bit more horror this year. So Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis really appealed to me. I was simultaneously drawn to it and repelled by it which always makes for an interesting reading experience. And honestly? I actually found myself really captivated by the story. So without further ado, I present to you: my review of Harrow Lake!
Many thanks to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
By Kat Ellis
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Date of Publication: 9th July 2020
Format: eBook (307 pages)
After a violent incident that leaves her father in hospital clinging for his life, a teenage girl is sent to stay with her maternal grandmother in a creepy small town. A creepy small town that was the setting for her father’s most iconic horror movie. But the monster that reportedly stalks the town is just an urban legend, right?
references to cannibalism
references to suicide
Being the scaredy cat that I am, I really expected to dislike this book. For one, it feels marketed towards fans of horror fiction and movies with reviews drawing parallels with Stephen King and Scream. Those things are generally the opposite of what I want. So I went into Harrow Lake expecting it to feel a bit like a slasher movie. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.
Harrow Lake is such an engaging read that I devoured it in a few hours. Because it’s super twisty, I found myself second guessing everything which I loved. I’d even go as far as saying that Harrow Lake offered some of the best plot twists I’ve read this year.
While Lola initially comes across as cold and bratty, I found her incredibly likeable. It’s made clear early on that she’s been a victim of severe emotional abuse which explains the walls she puts up around her. Her development through the book was wonderful. She even becomes a sort of heroine where she puts her emotional wellbeing and personal safety at risk in order to discover the truth.
My one grievance isn’t really a grievance at all but I didn’t think it was particularly scary? However, I think that I actually enjoyed the book more because it wasn’t half as scary as I’d expected. It’s creepy and there’s a lot of potentially scary stuff here like missing girls, urban legends and more than a handful of supernatural elements. But I wasn’t scared at any point and I scare really easily. And I think that might be disappointing to some readers whose scare threshold is significantly higher than my own. So if you’re looking for a book that’s big on scares, this might not be the one. But it might be – scare ratings are super subjective!
RELATED REVIEW: Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis (2021)
- Lots of twists
- Creepy small town setting
- Bold and courageous heroine
- Supernatural elements
Read This If You…
- Enjoy horror books and/or movies
- Want to read a book involving an urban legend
- Like supernatural thrillers
So that’s what I thought of Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. It’s available now so please do go and check it out if my review has piqued your interest!
What are your favourite horror fiction tropes? Let me know in the comments below!