The must-have thriller of 2020 that will keep you gripped, keep you guessing and keep you up all night. Welcome to Harrow Lake. S...

Review || Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

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 . . .


Harrow Lake features Lola Nox, the daughter of a film director. Her father's film Nightjar has managed to have a cult following in the small town of Harrow Lake. Her mother acted in the film and disappeared when Lola was just five years old. When Lola comes home to their New York apartment and finds the door ajar and her father stabbed many times, she is shipped off to the town of Harrow Lake to stay with her maternal grandmother that she hasn't seen since her mother disappeared. 

In spite of a hint of the paranormal 
Harrow Lake is a YA thriller. The inclusion of Mister Jitters, former man, now a cannibalistic creature that lives in Harrow Lake's caves is a clever redirection. Mister Jitters lived in the woods making moonshine during Prohibition and hiding them in the subterranean tunnels around the lake. Caught in a landslide and trapped with the bodies of other townfolk, no one wanted to risk digging him out and being caught themselves. When they finally were able to get to them, they found the bodies with human teeth marks and no Mister Jitters. The town has long since attributed weird disappearances to Mister Jitters getting hungry. 

As Lola settles into the creepy town of Harrow Lake, she discovers more and more about her mother and the town itself. Lola isn't a particularly likable character. In fact, she's rather flat. The more you read, the more you understand why. We discover how controlling and protective her father is. She's not allowed to have a cell phone or normal teenage things. However, when starting the book, it was hard to be invested in her character especially since some of her internal dialogue was at odds with the sheltered existence she supposedly led. 

I was tempted to DNF this one but stuck it out. There are a lot of transitions that felt choppy to me and I lost a feel for who was speaking at times. Also, a LOT of plot holes, like there were ideas that were meant to go somewhere but got dropped during editing. There's plenty of creepy details and the townspeople are super weird, but it felt cliched. The ending wasn't much of a surprise to me. I surmised it probably about 3/4 of the way through but again, there aren't many movies/books that the plot twists really startle me so consider that my reader fault and not that of the author. I think readers who don't typically read horror will find it to be an unusual read. It also clearly fits in the YA category, although there are some pretty serious implications of abuse and mental illness. I just don't think I was the right audience for it.