Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Many thanks to The WriteReads and Penguin for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. As always the decision to read was my own and this review forms my honest opinion.


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…


It’s been quite some time since I read a book which falls into the YA genre, and as I’m now hurtling through my thirties much quicker than I’d like, I did wonder if I would find as much to like in the genre as I did back in the day.

Harrow Lake tells the story of Lola Nox, daughter of celebrated horror movie director Nolan Nox. Following a brutal attack on her father in their New York apartment , Lola is sent to the small town of Harrow Lake to stay with a grandmother she never knew existed. Set to the backdrop of her absent mother’s hometown, and the location for one of her father’s most famous films ‘NightJar’, Lola begins to uncover long buried secrets from her own past. But the town isn’t just any small town. With a population obsessed with the film that made it famous, and the chilling stories of mysterious disappearances, Lola is soon desperate to return home.

Read within a couple of days, I found Harrow Lake to be an enjoyable read, incredibly easy to dip in and out of during the day. The writing is engaging and the story compelling enough to keep me reading and wanting to know what happens next.

I didn’t personally love Lola, and I felt that the way in which she was conditioned to think of the ‘optimal’ thing to say/do etc was, whilst on one hand an effective technique, it did begin to grate on my nerves quite quickly. That being said, I found myself very quickly invested in the story and I really enjoyed following it through the its conclusion. The fast pacing blended with the mysterious happenings in the town of Harrow Lake made for, very often, addictive reading and kept me turning the pages late into the night.

I’ll not lie, I was concerned about the horror aspect. I’m a notorious scaredy-cat with an often wild imagination, and whilst I found this to be seriously creepy (a tapping noise from the wooded area at the rear of our house whilst alone in the garden at dusk had me running inside double-quick), it wasn’t overdone or gory and I thankfully, didn’t lose any sleep over it! It was perfectly pitched and never fell out of balance with the narrative.

Harrow Lake will have wide appeal for fans of the YA genre, and also for those, who like me, fancy a bit of a change. Strong storytelling and a captivating story are the backbone of this book, and I would certainly seek out the author again in the future.

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