Wednesday 25 November 2020

UK YA Spotlight: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis and Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield - Holly Race

I haven't managed to read much over the last few months, as I rather foolishly decided to take part in NaNoWriMo to write book four, at the same time as editing my second novel. But the books I have read have been stunning. Proper, decide-to-let-the-toddler-sleep-in-dangerously-late-so-I-can-finish-this stunning.

The two books in question are both horrors: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis and Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield.


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...

This is the first of Kat's novels that I've read, but it certainly won't be the last. There's more than a little Stephen King in her writing, but the characters are rich with spikes and hidden trauma. I've seen a lot of people compare Harrow Lake to The Babadook, and that film sprang to my mind too. While the supernatural occurrences in Harrow Lake are creepy enough to keep you up at night, wondering if you, too, can hear Mr Jitters sliding into your room, the psychological roots of the story are equally strong. The ending left me sobbing and giving the air a little victory punch in equal measure.

Buy Harrow Lake on

GOOD GIRLS DIE FIRST, Kathryn Foxfield

Blackmail lures sixteen-year-old Ava to the derelict carnival on Portgrave Pier. She is one of ten teenagers, all with secrets they intend to protect whatever the cost. When fog and magic swallow the pier, the group find themselves cut off from the real world and from their morals.

As the teenagers turn on each other, Ava will have to face up to the secret that brought her to the pier and decide how far she's willing to go to survive.

As with Harrow Lake, the atmosphere of the setting is one of the stars of this book. But there's more of an Agatha Christie, And Then there Were None vibe to Kathryn's debut novel. Secrets, and the ramifications of holding on to them, is the glue that holds together Ava and the other teenagers who find themselves on Portgrave Pier. Kathryn does an incredible job of making us feel for so many of the characters, despite some of the things they've done or find themselves doing. The momentum of the book swept me up and by the end I was delaying work meetings so that I could find out what happened!

Buy Good Girls Die First on


Holly Race worked for many years as a script editor in film and television, before becoming a writer.

Her debut novel, Midnight's Twins, is published by Hot Key Books. She also selectively undertakes freelance script editing and story consultant work.

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