Wednesday, August 05, 2020

REVIEW: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

I have to be honest, it was the cover of Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis that had me intrigued.  I saw it on Netgalley and horror isn't really my jam but I was too tempted to pass this one by.  And you know what? It's become one of my biggest reading surprises of the year.

Harrow Lake has such a fantastic old-school horror film vibe to it.  Small town, old fashioned clothing, the creepiness in everyday items and places.  There's such a low-key creep factor to it that really builds throughout.  Despite it not being my usual reading material I found it really easy to fall into the story and into these characters.

Harrow Lake is a pretty unsettling place.  A small town that has been cut off from everything, not updated for decades and obsessed with the horror film that was filmed there and that made the town famous.  Our main character is Lola, who is the daughter of the film director who chose Harrow Lake as his film's setting and it's where her parents met, on set. 

But her mum has disappeared and when her dad is brutally attacked, Lola is sent to Harrow Lake to stay with her grandmother in this town that has not moved on.  I kind of loved how Lola doesn't really know who to trust or what to make of her grandmother and those she meets in Harrow Lake.  The jitterbugs in her mum's old room, the puppet in the town's museum, the abandoned sets used for the film all add different layers to how unsettling the book is.  I read bits of the Bone Tree out to my family and they were all suitably horrified.

I think my favourite thing about Harrow Lake, aside from how easily entertaining it is, is that it digs deeper than I was expecting into the buried secrets of their family, into those unanswered questions at the heart of Lola's and Harrow Lake's story.  And for that, I found this book utterly fascinating. 

Just, you know, keep an eye out - Mr. Jitters is coming.

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