Harrow Lake

As soon as I heard about this book at last year’s YALC, via Penguin’s super proof of extracts, I knew I needed it in my life. The entire concept is just superb and I love a good thriller. Fortunately, the amazing Simon Armstrong at Penguin sent me an ARC in exchange for an honest review and The Write Reads allowed me to participate in the blog tour!

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TW: death, horror, physical abuse, emotional abuse, implied sexual abuse

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 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.

My Thoughts:

Firstly, this is the sort of book you want to go into knowing very little, which obviously raises some difficulties for reviewing! However, I can confirm that this is an utterly unsettling, haunting book that is stepped in small town atmosphere and plays brilliantly with your nerves.

I cannot review Harrow Lake without mentioning the stunning design of the proof, akin to a VHS tape, that instantly sets the mood – to the extent of featuring static on some of the pages. This really helped me immerse myself in the atmosphere and general mood of the book, which I ended up bingeing in the course of one evening.

Ellis’ writing is superb, constantly keeping you on your toes and looking over your shoulder. It reminds me of classic horror, with that constant sense of dread and unease. I never felt like I could trust anything that was happening, with my expectations being constantly upended. The folklore of the town was so rich and imaginative, really creating the world of Harrow Lake and its claustrophobic small town atmosphere. It remind you how important our tales are and the power of imagination, which all good horror exploits to its darkest depths. The best monsters are those you never see and Ellis reminds us that often humans are just as monstrous as their creations. You’re completely entranced by the power of storytelling and just like Lola, you feel as though you may never escape.

Speaking of Lola, I really enjoyed her as a main character. She was inquisitive and you could really empathise with her struggle to rediscover the mother she never knew. From her first page, she is an intriguing figure that you can’t quite pin down. The interact of the interview being conducted with her father reinforces this idea, as you know from the start some elements of what is going to happen, but you have nowhere near the full picture. There is so much more I could say about the rich themes in the story, our cast of characters and the plot itself, but I am bound by the secrets of Harrow Lake. All I can say is that come July, you should definitely endeavour to discover them for yourself.

Harrow Lake is an unnerving force of nature that burrowed itself under my skin and had me holding my breath until the last page.

Thank you again to Penguin for the ARC, The Write Reads for including me and make sure you check out the rest of the amazing tour posts!

6 thoughts on “Harrow Lake

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