Look, these stories – small-town legends about monters or demons or evil spirits – they’re all just an excuse for people to avoid seeing the real monsters all around them. It’s a way to shatter the proverbial mirror.Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis
G’day friends! How is everyone going? I really hope you are all staying safe and taking care – and for those like my mum and brother who are ‘essential workers’, I hope you are okay and being as safe as you can.
Today I am actually thrilled to bring to you a review as part of The Write Reads blog tour for Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. How do I actually describe my feelings for this book?! My mind is still in a state of wonderful confusion.
Before I even attempt to write my thoughts in some sort of coherent review, here is the synopsis that is also available on Goodreads:
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 then 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 . . .
let me try and articulate my thoughts…
In the aftermath of finishing Harrow Lake, all I could do was stare off into space for a few minutes.
What did I just read?
I have to admit that the ending absolutely blew me away. The way in which everything tied back together was masterfully done and meant that the conclusion of the book ended on a very strong and somewhat emotional note.
The premise of the story is not wholly original, but that does not mean it was not extremely creepy and suspenseful. When she finds her father, Nolan, stabbed in his study (I think it was his study, if I remember correctly, if not – I apologise) and in hospital in a critical condition, teenage Lola is whisked away to her grandmother Moira’s house in Harrow Lake. The hometown of her mother, Lorelai as well as the town which catapulted Lola’s father’s directorial fame, Nightjar – a modern horror classic. Lola’s first taste of Harrow Lake is terrifying, bone chillingly horrifying. Every tap, every whisper; a local town horrow legend, Mister Jitters, eventually feels very real to Lola.
I wouldn’t say I was terrified when I was reading this, but I was creeped out. Especially in the way the grandmother was written, she could have very easily been a serial killer and I would not have been surprised. But what I think the emphasis of this book is, and why I included the quote which opens up this blog post, is that monsters are very much human. The behaviour of the grandmother, the behaviour of the father, the past behaviour Lola’s grandfather – they are each monsters in their own way. The creepy factor of this book lies in the fact that supernatural-type monsters of local myth are legitimately nothing to the very human actions of Lola’s family.
But I do want to know, is Mister Jitters real?! I do think that the ‘supernatural’ like occurences which are peppered throughout the novel are the result of trauma. Lola is a very interesting character, in that she is an unreliable narrator and who copes with her trauma in the various ways she knows how (such as her imaginary friend, Mary Ann who appears and reappears as a result of traumatic experiences). It took me at least 150 pages to fully get into the story and to become engaged with the character of Lola. She felt bland and dull with no personality in the beginning – but then I realised, ohhh it’s on purpose because of trauma. Lola has never been able to actually do anything for herself – her every action, her very voice, is controlled by her father. By the end of the novel, I was hoping with everything in me that she survives and finds her own way.
The reason as to why it didn’t hit the five star mark for me is because of the fact that it took me a while to get into the story as well as the varying plot holes. There are a more than aspects to the plot that are introduced, given next to nothing in terms of attention, and then we don’t read anything else about it. I think that would have to be one of the biggest weaknesses of this book, personally – but others may very well enjoy that about this book!
Overall, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend it for any readers who enjoy thrillers. It will take you for a ride as well as confuse the fuck out of you.
Until next time, happy reading! Make sure to check out the other blog tour stops on the blog tour!
All the love,