Title: Harrow Lake
Author: Kat Ellis
Release Date: 9/7/2020
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 21
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Penguin, via NetGalley as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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.
Content Warning: this book contains multiple topics that some may not be comfortable with. Please check out its Entry on the Book Trigger Warnings Website
I think I was about the only person on a recent tour who did not like this book. And I am going to be extremely upfront as to why. This was the WORST depiction of mental health related issues I have ever read. I found the use of multiple different health issues from PTSD to dementia as plot devices distasteful, and not once was any character offered help for those issues. I think that is extremely careless in this day and age, to have these front and centre without bringing them back to the key issue of getting help.
This being the primary driving of the plot meant I did not enjoy the plot. The "horror" aspect being intrinsic to the is it real or is it due to the MC’s PTSD, hallucinations and compulsive behaviour. I get that the author was trying to go for the unreliable narrator, but again I just didn’t agree with this choice especially when no other perspective was offered. I also found it to be quite predictable I could see the big reveal from the beginning.
In terms of character development in my opinion there wasn’t much apart from the story of the Mc’s mother, who was a main focus. Due to the choice of narration style there was a distinct style to the voice. Again some of these choices I found to be very poor taste. The MC repeats the word "OPTIMAL" in a compulsive fashion as if to sooth her. None of this is discussed in the text. The writing style was quite staccato at points, jumping, chopping and changing which I guess is supposed to be disorientating but instead just threw me out of the story.
On the plus side there was some really atmospherics descriptions and this is what brought the book up to a two star read as these had some great imagery. The ending had an alright little twist. That was until the author wrote herself her own 5 star review of the book as part of the narrative!?! Overall this just left a bad taste in my mouth. I would most likely not have finished it if it wasn’t an ARC.