Book Review: Harrow Lake

08.25.2020 | Penguin
Rating: 4/5 stars


Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker best known for a movie taking place in a sleepy town called Harrow Lake. It’s also the place where Lola’s father met her mother, who was the star of this very film. Lola has never been to Harrow Lake. A brutal attack on her father in their New York apartment finds Lola swept away to Harrow Lake to stay with her grandmother as her father heals. What she finds is a mysterious town where the locals share an obsession with the film that put their town on the map. There are strange disappearances and local lore that lead Lola to believe this place may be haunted. As she digs deeper she realizes there’s someone or something watching her every move.

As a horror movie lover, I was immediately drawn to the premise of HARROW LAKE. Who doesn’t want to visit the town where a legendary horror movie was filmed? No? Just me? 

Things start off with a strange interview with Nolan, Lola’s father, and then quickly cycle back to the events of one year prior. This drops us with Lola, who is a complicated teenage main character. At first I wasn’t sure I would love Lola. She seemed a bit self-centered and privileged and honestly a bit annoying. I quickly learned a lot of this vibe was put out by Lola as a form of protection. She lives an extremely sheltered life and her first chance at freedom is coming in the form of the bizarre town of Harrow Lake. 


Following Lola revealed more than just what her character was hiding under the surface, but also what the town was keeping secret. Harrow Lake is a fascinating setting and Ellis brings it to life with vivid clarity. I could feel the antiquated buildings and features of a small town, but also the underlying mystery of the people living there. Don’t even get me started on how weird I find their annual festival! 

HARROW LAKE is a quick read that truly kept me hooked throughout the story. Despite being marketed as a young adult horror book, I found that there were much deeper subjects covered than I was expecting especially towards the end of the book. HARROW LAKE is the perfect read if you’re looking for a nostalgic horror movie fix in book form!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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