There’s an aspect of myself that I haven’t talked about much on my blog: I’m a huge fan of horror movies. I grew up watching them and have longed held a love for all things creepy. Of course that means when I started expanding my reading tastes beyond fantasy, horror was one of the first ones I picked up. I’m slowly making my way through Stephen King’s vast amount of novels and I generally think the creepier the better! So, when Dave @TheWriteReads asked if I wanted to be part of a blog tour for a horror book that centered around a fake horror movie, I jumped at the chance!
Today, I will be one of the stops on said blog tour. I want to thank @TheWriteReads for working so hard to put this all together! I would also like to thank the publisher, Penguin Books, for providing an e-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It is all very much appreciated!
Now, let’s dive in!
“The must-have thriller of 2020 that will keep you gripped, keep you guessing and keep you up all night.
Welcome to Harrow Lake.
Someone’s expecting you.
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 then 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 . . .”
- Author: Kat Ellis
- Publisher: Penguin Books
- Publication date: August 25th, 2020 (July 9th in the UK)
- Genre: Horror/Thriller
- Age group: Young adult
- Content Warnings: Violence, abuse
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.
So I grew up on horror movies, right? I remember watching The Night of the Living Dead at a ridiculously inappropriate age and being terrified of zombies for years afterwards! I’ve watched a gambit of classics when I was young and, as I grew up, I found myself gravitating to the genre. And I found that I wasn’t scared as I had once been. No more hiding under blankets because I saw a mummy scooping some guy’s brains out with a coat hanger for this girl!
I say all this to really get to one point: I don’t scare easy.
Why do I bring this up? Because most people go into horror novels expecting to be scared! I’m sure you want to know if Harrow Lake delivered.
Well… sort of?
I will say that this book delivered on the creep factor. There’s something about an isolated, small town that’s only famous because a surreal horror movie was filmed there that lends itself to being utterly creepy. I think the author did a masterful job of instilling a deep sense of foreboding as we discover the town of Harrow Lake alongside our main character, Lola. The residents are strange, the town itself is on the verge of literal collapse, and the atmosphere is perfectly odd.
But, still, was I scared? Not even once. But I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing! Why? Because the entire time I was reading this, I felt like I was watching a campy horror movie. And I love campy horror movies! They aren’t necessarily the scariest, but they definitely are fun as hell. That’s how I felt about Harrow Lake. It was terrifying, but I had a blast reading it!
I think my favorite part of the whole book was Lola. She was such an interesting main character! She clearly had her own issues before being shipped off to the town where her famous father filmed his most iconic movie. I do love a book with an unreliable narrator, as well. I like to be kept on my toes as to whether or not I should take everything I’m being told with a grain of salt. It adds to the suspense for me, so I appreciated not knowing whether Lola’s POV was 100% trustworthy.
Also, like I said, the creep factor of this book is top notch! I’d imagine more so if you’re not a fan of bugs. I liked the weird backstory of the Big Baddie. I thought the strangeness of the town and the people who lived there was wonderfully written. The isolation and the hostility could almost be felt radiating from the pages! It all combined to give this book a certain chilliness that I appreciate in my horror in any format.
I will say, though, that I guessed pretty much every twist before it occurred. I think there was one twist I didn’t see coming and it was a minor one. But, again, I have watched a lot of horror movies and this book felt like a horror movie in paper form. Honestly, if it’s ever made into a movie, I would definitely watch it! So I can excuse a little predictability because it was still an engrossing ride.
Final thoughts: Though this was a bit predictable, it was a thrill to read and definitely delivered when it came to creepiness. If you’re looking for a dark story that reads kind of like a campy horror flick, you’re going to love Harrow Lake!