Amy’s Thoughts On…Harrow Lake and The Henna Wars (Mini Review Monday)

Happy Monday! I know I haven’t done a Mini Review Monday for a while, yet again I got so caught up in life that it’s slipped my mind. I am hoping now that I am on my six week break from work (I work in a school) that I will be able to keep on top of it.

This week I am reviewing two books that are very different to one another but both are ones that I thoroughly enjoyed – Harrow Lake and The Henna Wars.

*This post contains affiliate links, this means, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and purchase the linked item.*

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

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Published By: Puffin Books

Released: 9th July 2020

Amazon / Book Depository / Waterstones

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.

Trigger Warnings: Death, murder, physical abuse, emotional abuse.

Well, Harrow Lake is the YA Horror that I needed in my life. I’d heard many great things about it from early reviews, so was very eager to get into it, and well I wasn’t disappointed, let’s say that.

From the get-go, you are thrust into the world of Lola, and you are instantly hit with a creepy, unsteady feeling that does make you feel uneasy, but also you want to read on. As you got further into the story, the plot gets darker and at times I could feel myself getting goosebumps. It did remind me of the old horror movies and this was due to Ellis’s writing style. The writing does make you realise that nothing is as it seems and leaves you waiting with unease to find out what happens next. Also, I loved the use of sound, it did add some more elements to the horror and suspense of the overall plot.

he town of Harrow Lake is one that I wouldn’t like to visit and one that yet again reminds me of towns in old horror movies. The townsfolk are downright creepy and you could tell they were hiding something as soon as they were introduced. I also noticed that as time went on, Lola’s personality started to shift to the point where she was contemplating violence and this teetered on the edge of insanity, which was spine-chilling to read about and gave me shivers. Additionally, I felt like the story did play tricks with your mind to the point where you were questioning what was real and what wasn’t, and this component, I felt, made you feel like you were slowly unravelling, just like Lola.

Harrow Lake was a terrifying, chilling, shocking read that will get under your skin and leave you both amazed but also shivering with fear.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

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Published By: Page Street Publishing

Released: 12th May 2020

Amazon / Book Depository / Waterstones

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangledbut Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

Trigger warnings: Homophobia, Racism, Islamophobia, Bullying

Well, The Henna Wars was such a cute read that melted my heart! After having this book recommended to me many times, I finally got reading it and I was overcome with emotion, let me tell you that.

Let me start by saying that yes this was a cute romance, but it was also more than that and it touched on some important issues that I feel need to be addressed more in not just YA but in fiction in general. Firstly, Nishat is a lesbian, but is also a Muslim and is hit with the struggles of wanting to come out and be who she is, but also not wanting to let her family down. Throughout the story, we really get into the heart of her struggle and you are left rooting for her to be true to herself, and ultimately be who she truly is. Secondly, racism. You are shown throughout the book how Nishat has to deal with racism, in particular from one certain person and how she copes with it. It does get under your skin and I found myself hoping that people can learn more about these issues through reading The Henna Wars.

Relationships, I felt were the main feature of The Henna Wars and I adored it. The relationship between Nishat and Flavia was such a slow burner but one that I loved seeing blossom. They went from old childhood friends to enemies, to friends to much more. I’ll admit I didn’t like Flavia much at the start, but the more I got to know her and watch her character the develop the more my opinion of her changed. Both Nishat and Flavia balanced each other out and in all honesty, they were made for each other. Sibling relationships were also touched on within the story and the love Nishat and Priti had for each other was touching. Priti supported Nishat through her journey of coming out and never once judged her, and that is what true sibling love is all about. It was truly admirable.

The Henna Wars was an endearing, adorable romance that I just lapped up. What stood out though, was the way it tackled issues such as homophobia, racism and identity sensitively and thoughtfully.

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