Book Review: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

book review

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 09 July 2020

Genre: YA horror

Page count: 320 pages

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.


Harrow Lake first burst onto my radar when the publishers were sending out the coolest looking proofs (seriously, check it out!) in the winter. I was immediately interested in the book as soon as I read the summary — I’ve never been much of a horror reader but have been trying to dip my toe into the genre lately. Harrow Lake turned out to be a great stepping stone into horror for me with its creepy, atmospheric setting and things that go bump in the 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 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.


Fact: I am a huge wimp, but absolutely love (certain) horror films. What I specifically love about these films is the tension that is teased out and cranked up as the story progresses. That’s exactly what I got from Harrow Lake — the story is strange and tense from the first few pages, and only gets more intense as the pages turn. Ellis does a great job of setting up the fantastically weird atmosphere of the town of Harrow Lake, a town that has never let go of it’s horror film fame (for better or worse), and that atmosphere is such a wonderful source of tension in the book. It has that perfect ‘small town creepiness’ that works so perfectly in the horror genre.

My favourite aspect of the book is the throwbacks to horror films throughout the book. Lola is the daughter of a cult filmmaker and the leading lady in his most famous film, Night Jar. Not only were there loads of references to the fictional Night Jar and other films, the book itself has a cinematic feeling. It feels like a perfectly adapted novelisation of a cult classic horror film. It gave me serious Night Film vibes, a book I enjoyed when I read it a few years ago. If you enjoyed Night Film or are a horror movie junkie, you absolutely have to pick up this book!

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Lola as a character. She’s not particularly likeable when she is first introduced, however her story — and therefore her character — gets much more complex and intriguing as more is revealed. I think my favourite thing about her is the fact that she doesn’t fit into the standard horror trope — she experiences creepy and weird things happening around her and does not dismiss them as nothing. She’s sharp and on top of the situation, which I found incredibly refreshing. Lola is lost and confused, but incredibly proactive and I found that so satisfying.

Harrow Lake is a fantastic YA horror read that’s perfect for your summer reading. Not only is it a fast and pulse-pounding read, it’s immensely satisfying and feels like a breath of fresh air in the YA genre. If you’re looking for something that has a similar vibe to Night Film, or horror classics in general, you should absolutely pick up Harrow Lake.


Want to pick up a copy of Harrow Lake? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links): 

Book Depository | Blackwells


Have you read Harrow Lake yet? Is it in your TBR? Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

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