#BookReview: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis @PenguinUKBooks #HarrowLake #damppebbles

“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 Lola’s every move.

The more she 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…”

Hello and welcome to a brand new day on damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of the creepy Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. Harrow Lake was published by Penguin in paperback, audio and digital formats on 9th July 2020. This book was impossible to resist so I treated myself to a copy and I’m so glad I did (check out the glorious yellow sprayed edges!).

Lola Nox lives in the shadow of her famous horror filmmaker father, Nolan, and her absent movie star mother, Lorelei. After a devastating event at home she’s sent to Harrow Lake, the small town her mother grew up in, to stay with her grandmother. A grandmother she’s never met before. In a town which featured in her father’s most famous film, Nightjar, the film which made Lorelei a star. On arrival she discovers everyone in Harrow Lake is obsessed with her mother and Nightjar. To the point where they hold a regular festival and parade for the tourists. There’s literally no escape! But Harrow Lake has its own secrets and as Lola starts to dig deeper, she find out about the missing girls. Who – or what – is responsible for their disappearance? And will Lola be next…?

Harrow Lake is a compulsive and chilling YA horror novel which sent shivers down my spine. It’s a modern-day take on an 80s horror movie and I enjoyed every single moment of it. Not only is Harrow Lake a creep-fest but to ratchet things up a notch it has its own town legend – Mister Jitters. The residents live in fear and carry out macabre practices such as leaving their teeth tied to the bone tree to stop Mister Jitters from wanting to get a taste of their bones (😱). It’s the stuff nightmares are made of and Ellis has told such a vivid tale that you feel at times like you’re actually living the horror alongside Lola.

I couldn’t get enough of the setting nor the characters who all stand tall. Lola was difficult to like initially but you grow to like and admire her. I was with her every step of the way (despite wishing I wasn’t at times). Lola’s grandmother made me feel uncomfortable from the first meet. She’s a closed-off, odd woman who has plenty of devastating secrets of her own. There are some pretty unlikeable, well-written characters in Harrow Lake and their strange behaviour and peculiar ways really kept me on my toes.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Harrow Lake is a very immersive, vivid tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the small town feel of the story, the claustrophobia and the heaps of unease the author has woven into the book. It’s a compelling YA novel which I heartily recommend to young and *erm* slightly older horror fans. I would make sure you pick up a copy soon otherwise Mister Jitters may come-a-knocking… Recommended.

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis was published in the UK by Penguin on 9th July 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | bookshop.orgamazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Kat EllisKat Ellis is the author of YA novels HARROW LAKE, PURGE, BLACKFIN SKY, and BREAKER, and the novella THE TWINS OF BLACKFIN in the THREE STRIKES collection. Her next book, BURDEN FALLS, will be published in the summer of 2021.

You’ll usually find Kat up to no good on Twitter, trekking through ruins and cemeteries with her camera, or watching scary films with her husband.

#BookReview: Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare @harperteen #ClownInACornfield #damppebbles 🤡

clown in a cornfieldIn Adam Cesare’s terrifying young adult debut, Quinn Maybrook finds herself caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress—that just may cost her life.

Quinn Maybrook and her father have moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs, to find a fresh start. But what they don’t know is that ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. 

On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.

Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare with you. Clown in a Cornfield was published by HarperTeen on 17th September 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I saw Clown in a Cornfield mentioned in a couple of Facebook Horror groups and it sounded right up my street so I ordered a copy without a moment’s hesitation.

I bloody hate clowns which perhaps explains why my family looked at me strangely when I ordered this book. What I do love though is a blood-soaked horror read which Clown in a Cornfield most definitely is. I was so excited to make a start on this one that I dropped everything to read it.

Quinn Maybrook is the new girl in town. Having recently lost her mother in tragic circumstances, teenager Quinn is determined to help her father settle quickly into Kettle Springs and build up his GP practice. Despite it being very different to her beloved Philadelphia, Kettle Springs looks an ‘interesting’ place to spend a year before heading off to college. Quinn quickly makes new friends but it’s hard to ignore the divide in the town. The adults don’t like the kids. The kids think the adults are trying to spoil their fun. The kids continue to rebel, pushing the limits, pulling reckless stunts and embarrassing the townsfolk every way they can. Until one fateful night when Kettle Springs’ creepy mascot – Frendo – decides to take things into his own hands…

I really liked Quinn. She felt wise beyond her years and despite the terrifying situation she found herself in, she adjusted and did what she had to do. No matter what that was, and I loved that about her. The supporting cast of characters were equally as well-written but I do admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Rust, who in my opinion stole the show on a number of gun-toting occasions.

In the first third to a half of the book the author sets the scene. The reader is given an insight into life in Kettle Springs and the root cause of much of the tension. It’s a slow build which is necessary to the story but I couldn’t help but be a little impatient, waiting for things to kick off. With hindsight, the amount of non-stop action in the second half of the book meant that the book was nicely balanced overall. If events had been full on from the get-go, I think I would have been exhausted 😂! Reading shouldn’t be exhausting, right?! The second half of Clown in a Cornfield is wonderfully intense and nerve-wracking, and I loved it. The fear was palpable and I was on the edge of my seat.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Clown in a Cornfield delivered one hell of a ride and I was with the characters every terrifying step of the way. I loved that the author didn’t really hold back (although, to contradict myself, I wish he had pushed things a smidge further in one respect). There are a number of brilliant shocks and surprises along the way which really added to the reading experience. For me, this is a book for adults and older teens. It’s a little gorier than your average YA novel and because I’m old fashioned, far too many naughty words for younger teens (who probably know more swear words than I do!). But it reminded me in a way of a series of horror novels I read in my early 20s and that made it all the more fantastic. Recommended.

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare was published in the UK by HarperTeen on 17th September 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |


Adam Cesare is a New Yorker who lives in Philadelphia. He studied English and film at Boston University.

His work has been featured in numerous publications, including Shroud Magazine. His nonfiction has appeared in Paracinema, Fangoria, The LA Review of Books and other venues. He also writes a monthly column for Cemetery Dance Online.

His novels and novellas are available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other fine retailers.

You should buy some.