Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis – A Review

Hi! Today is the last day of the Harrow Lake Ultimate Blog Tour hosted by Dave at TheWriteReads on Twitter and it’s my turn to share my thoughts on the book!

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis
  • Publication date: July 9th 2020
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Genre: Thriller

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.

Thank you to the publisher, NetGalley and Dave for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thrillers have become one of my favourite genres recently, even though I’ve rated very few of them 5 stars. When this tour was announced, I was ecstatic! The blurb, though quite vague, had me hooked. I love small creepy towns, close knit communities shrouded in mysteries, and that kind of vibe.

Harrow Lake definitely delivered in that regard. From the get go, the story and the world building were very mysterious and atmospheric. The first couple of chapters set up the mood of the story brilliantly and hinted at some supernatural aspects, which is not my favourite kind of mystery, but it can work when done well. The mentions of Mister Jitters and unexplained disappearances were just the right amount of spooky for me.

Unfortunately, after a strong start, the story went downhill. For the most part of the middle the plot was nearly non existent. In trying to keep everything creepy and mysterious, and explore the superstition of Mister Jitters and making the reader believe he exists, the plot was pushed to the side and it’s when the book slowed down for me and lost the initial excitement.

I feel like the characters were somewhat sacrificed for the sake of the atmosphere, too. I wanted more development for Lola, especially to justify the choice the author made about the ending of the story. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the “twist” at the end of the book needed more to be fully believable, in my opinion. I thought she was well done, for most of it, but some parts just didn’t make sense because they were revealed too late, to justify the twist. The supporting characters needed to be more fleshed out, too, mostly Lola’s grandmother. She had a really big role in the story especially in bridging the supernatural with Lola’s mother’s disappearance, but she was reduced to the creepy old lady who wasn’t always all there.

Some of the most interesting bits of the story were never actually explained, and it’s the main reason for my rating. Like I mentioned before, the plot hinted at the supernatural, and revolved around Mister Jitters and the legend of him, just to flip towards the end and change into a psychological thriller – no doubt for the shock value – yet it just left a lot of loose threads, which I wish were addressed more and tied together. Again, not to spoil anything, I filled in the blanks myself which I think was the author’s intent, but it didn’t satisfy me in the end.

I’m torn on the rating. I think I will settle on 2.75 rounded up to 3 for the sake of Goodreads and this star business.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Check out other people’s reviews by following TheWriteReads Twitter and if this YA thriller sounds interesting to you make sure to pick it up when it comes out in July! Just because it didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.

Thank you for reading! As always, I will talk to you all soon!

4 thoughts on “Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis – A Review

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