Book Review: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

November 5, 2020 in Young Adult

AD • I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post also contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are marked with a (*). When you purchase an item through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, please read my Disclosure.

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.

Harrow Lake
By Kat Ellis

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Date of Publication: 9th July 2020
Genre: Horror/YA
Format: eBook (307 pages)
Rating: ★★★★



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?


Content Warnings

body horror
references to cannibalism
child abuse
sexual abuse
domestic violence
references to suicide

My Review

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!


  • Stephanie @ Bookfever November 5, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I’m glad this wasn’t as scary as you thought it would be. And maybe it’s just me but I dislike it that pretty much all horror books are being compared to Stephen King’s. Whyyy lol

    • Hayley November 7, 2020 at 8:48 am

      Right?? I think that’s what puts me off most horror books because I know from experience that Stephen King’s books are too much for me to handle so the comparisons will only encourage me not to read it. Glad I read this one though because it was very good!

  • Fadima Mooneira November 6, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    The novel has an interesting storyline. But it’s not my cup of tea. Thank you for sharing your review with me.

    • Hayley November 7, 2020 at 9:01 am

      No problem Fadima, thanks for reading my review! 🙂

  • Lucy November 6, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    I’m not really a horror fan as I always jump out of my skin watching horror films, I would definitely try to give this book a read! x

    Lucy |

    • Hayley November 9, 2020 at 6:42 am

      I feel you Lucy! Hope it’s not too scary for you. 🙂

  • Amie November 6, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    Oooh this sounds like such an amazing book, I’m definitely going to add this to my to purchase list.

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    • Hayley November 9, 2020 at 6:53 am

      Thanks Amie, hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Lisa Alioto November 7, 2020 at 3:18 am

    I’m not sure if I would like this book or not – does it go deep enough or the fact that it wasn’t super scary was that okay? I might have to check it out to see.. Thanks for the review

    • Hayley November 9, 2020 at 6:59 am

      Hey Lisa! I’d say it goes pretty deep into family dynamics, the impact of childhood trauma and the power of urban legends in small towns. As for the scares, it didn’t bother me so much as I don’t really do scary. But if you were looking for an intense scary read, this might not be it. Hope you enjoy it if you do check it out! 🙂

  • Heather November 7, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    I have added this to my list! It does sound good. I have read a few books of late that I expected to be terrified by but they ended up being just simple good reads.

    • Hayley November 9, 2020 at 7:04 am

      Thanks Heather! I know exactly what you mean. 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    I accept the Privacy Policy

    Hey There!

    Hey There!

    I'm Hayley - a UK book blogger & reviewer. Also: introvert, homebody & mum. Kinda emo. 🖤🤍💜

    Pronouns: she/her

    Please note: I am currently not accepting book review requests.

    Follow Happily Ever Homebody on


    Hayley by the Book receives compensation in the following ways:

    • Free books in exchange for honest reviews
    • Commission from affiliate links

    For more info please check out my Disclosure page.

    Let’s Connect

    Latest Posts




    Professional Reader

    Reviews Published

    10 Book Reviews