Horror Suspense YA Young Adult

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis Review

Lola’s life is a bit like the set of a 1920s horror movie. It comes with the territory. After all, Lola’s dad is none other than Nolan Nox, director of 1920s cult horror classics like the uber-creepy Nightjar. Lola’s best friend growing up was an uncanny ventriloquist puppet, and she’s already penned a slasher screenplay which her dad used, although altered and without giving Lola credit.

Horror seems to be in Lola’s blood. After all, Lola’s mom (who up and left the family when Lola was young) was born and raised in the same small town where Nolan’s hallowed Nightjar was shot — a place with its own gory history. During a landslide, a local recluse was trapped underground and forced to survive by feeding off the dead. Yuck. The recluse became the mythological nightmare monster, Mister Jitters, who continues to seek revenge on the town. The place is Harrow Lake, Indiana. Landslides are still a genuine danger, and the town remains stuck in time as something of an homage to the 1920s. It’s a middle-of-nowhere place without cell service where kids grow up to leave because there aren’t enough jobs to go around.

Twenty years after Nightjar’s debut, Lola finds herself exiled to Harrow Lake when her dad is hospitalized in New York City. Lola doesn’t want to leave her dad, leaving does not feel “Optimal.” Optimal responses are those Nolan (never “dad”) would approve of, and Lola’s interior monologue is a back-and-forth negotiation between her own wants and her dad’s Draconian guidance. Nolan’s assistant Larry, however, is insistent, and before Lola is even allowed to set foot into Nolan’s hospital room, she’s off to stay with her maternal grandmother. The two have never met and it’s dislike at first sight. Surrounded by the reminders of a mother she barely remembers, Lola stumbles upon a dangerous path of sinister creatures, skittering bugs, and long-forgotten memories because, in Harrow Lake, there’s only ever a breath between horror and reality.

Book: Harrow Lake
Published: Penguin
Pages: 304
Publication Date: July 9th, 2020
Age Range: 14 – 18
Stars: 4.5/5

Penguin Random House kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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