Welcome to the second discussion post for The You’ll Read Too Bookclub! In November, we read Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. Quick Note: Instead of doing Live Shows on Instagram, I am now doing IGTV videos so they are accessible on my page whenever members are ready to view them. Unfortunately the Live Shows don’t gain much attention as it is difficult to encompass different time zones. If you wish to check out my discussion for this book, click here. You can also access all of the latest updates/information. Spoilers ahead!
Quick Reminder: This month we are reading Clown In A Cornfield by Adam Cesare.
Today I’m going to discuss the book in the same way I did the IGTV video. I’ll give a quick plot summary plus my overall star/scare-factor ratings. Then I will share the discussion topics and trivia questions. Please, please include all of your answers and opinions down below. I want to know exactly what you thought. I’ll also leave the answers to the trivia questions at the very bottom of the post, so if you want to guess without being spoiled, don’t scroll to the end until you’re ready. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
HARROW LAKE by KAT ELLIS – NOVEMBER 2020
This story follows Lola, a teenager with a famous horror-movie director for a father. When he is brutally attacked in their apartment, Lola is sent to stay with her grandmother in Harrow Lake; where his most renowned cult flick, Nightjar, was filmed. When she arrives, Lola notices 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. Furthermore, there is someone stalking her every move. Could it be the legendary monster Mr. Jitters or something much worse…
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this book 4/5 stars. The reading experience itself was an enjoyable, wild ride and the atmosphere – EXCELLENT! The entire town of Harrow Lake creeped me out. The author did an amazing job painting a picture of a place that I wouldn’t dream of setting foot in. The final reveal had me reeling. I did not see it coming but that’s what made it such a satisfying ending. Please note the following trigger warnings: trauma, sexual assault, child molestation and physical abuse. It definitely gave me The Babadook vibes thanks to the shadowy, terrifying monster: Mr. Jitters. The reason I couldn’t give it a full 5 stars was that it confused me at times and left some things unexplained. It was very difficult to tell what was real and what wasn’t. I also wasn’t overly invested in the love interest. To me, Lola was a stand-out character; causing the other characters to fall short in comparison.
OVERALL SCARE-FACTOR RATING
I’ve read a few reviews of this book that claim it isn’t a horror. I don’t agree in the slightest. This story had multiple, scary elements. From the stalking of Mr. Jitters to the creepy doll to locations like The Bone Tree to the disturbing reveal; this novel is bound to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. I gave it 4/5 for the overall scare-factor. The part that creeped me out the most was when Lola stumbled on the film playing in the museum. Even the jitterbugs made me shudder!
1.) Do you believe Mr. Jitters was real or just a manifestation of trauma?
At the end of the book, we discover that Lola’s mother, Lorelai was repeatedly molested by her father. He used the legend of Mr. Jitters as a threat to keep her quiet – but that still didn’t completely prove that the creepy puppet wasn’t real. Despite Lola’s trauma, she continues to witness his shadowy presence and even the townspeople are fearful of him. I feel like the author left his existence open to interpretation. What do you think?
2.) How would you describe the atmosphere in Harrow Lake?
The best way I can describe the atmosphere in Harrow Lake is like a fever dream. You know when you’re sick with a temperature and all of your dreams are fuzzy and disjointed? That is what the reading experience was like for me. When we discover that Lola is crippled with trauma and dissociation, this form of narration begins to make perfect sense. I would love to re-read it with a new lens. The town itself is creepy, strange and chilling. You can never really relax nor rely on Lola’s perspective. In my opinion, the atmosphere was the best part of the book.
3.) Did you guess what happened to Lorelai? What theories did you have?
My theory was that she had been imprisoned by her mother or the townspeople for all of these years. I was actually surprised to discover she was dead; her corpse still in Harrow Lake. What about you?
4.) What do you believe happened to the girls who played Lorelai?
This is the part of the book that wasn’t fully explained. When Lola discovers one of the girls screaming and running in the woods, it isn’t completely clear what she’s afraid of. This is why I wasn’t convinced Mr. Jitters was just a myth. Did Lola even see her or was it a manifestation of trauma? The only other explanation is they died by stumbling into one of the many sinkholes. Also, what happened to Mrs. Carver?
5.) In what ways was Lola similar to her mother?
By the end of the book, we realise that Lola is very similar to her mother Lorelai and not just in appearance. They are no strangers to abusive fathers that are insanely controlling and manipulative. Furthermore, they are charming, enigmatic women that draw in the attention of people around them. Lola adopts the habit of writing down secrets on paper like her mother did as a child as well using objects for comfort, ie. her doll versus Lorelai’s jitterbugs. What similarities did you notice?
Easy: What is Lorelai’s character’s name in Nightjar?
Medium: Name a famous Nightjar location in Harrow Lake.
Hard: How many jitterbugs are in Lorelai’s room?
I hope you enjoyed the book club discussion on this blog and on Instagram. As mentioned above, share all of your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any feedback/suggestions to improve the bookclub, please let me know. I look forward to talking to you all next month! Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
TRIVIA ANSWERS: Easy: ‘Little Bird.’ Medium: The Bone Tree, The Sunken Graveyard, The Church or The Caves. Hard: 72.