The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak : A Review

I was browsing the Urban Fantasy tag on Goodreads, looking for something new, fantastical, gripping, and came across The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak.
One glance at the blurb, and this went on my "READ NOW" list!
While Layla Petrovich returns home to rural Hamletville after a desperate call from her psychic grandmother, she never could have anticipated the horror of what Grandma Petrovich has foreseen. The residents of Hamletville will need Layla's cool head, fast blade and itchy trigger finger to survive the undead apocalypse that's upon them. But even that may not be enough. With mankind silenced, it soon becomes apparent that we were never alone. As the beings living on the fringe seek power, Layla must find a way to protect the ones she loves or all humanity may be lost.
It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead!

So, I picked it up immediately! Click through to see what I thought! (No major plot spoilers!)

"The world, it seemed, had gone silent. It was something we knew but did not talk about. We were alone."

I love me a good apocalypse story. Usually in the genre, you get to see the world beginning well into the characters' post apocalyptic lives. Which, don't get me wrong, is great. But I do love stories that start when things are normal as we know them, and shit hits the fan right in front of you. Where people are a little slow in realizing what exactly is going on around them and think things will be okay soon.. until they aren't. This is one of those stories. 

It was not at all what I expected it to be. I really thought this would be your standard Urban Fantasy (which I love), snarky heroine, sexy snarky hero, sexual tension and battle of wits, with random fights and showdowns with the undead where they all kick zombie butt, etc. But I was in for a surprise. It's a serious, adult, dark fantasy. Almost quiet and slow paced at times. 

Layla Petrovich lives in Washington D.C. and works as a medieval weapons museum curator and instructor... which means we find out immediately she is KICK.ASS. And knows how to wield ALL sorts of awesome weapons that I can't even name. I mean really, I was determined to love this when I realized our heroine was a medieval weapons expert in both theory AND practice.

She's going about her life when she gets a strange, and very to-the-point, call from her equally strange grandmother telling to come home to Hamletville IMMEDIATELY. Layla leaves her happy city life behind as soon as she can to answer Grandma Petrovich's urgent summons.

Layla returns to find that her psychic Grandma Petrovich has turned her home into a fortress of sorts, with enough survival gear and food to keep her going for a while, and she has more stuff on a list for Layla to get. When she settles in, her Grandmother gives her some magic mushroom tea by way of explanations, and to open up Layla's mind to powers much like her Grandmother's. Layla passes out, and wakes up the next morning to a world very different to the one she came home to. Grandma Petrovich isn't around to explain, there are zombies at the gate, and Layla and the readers are swept into a world of the undead, spirits guiding , and surviving!

I don't want to give anything away, because this was a great read. It was like being in Hamletville with Layla and the other survivors while she saves their asses using her very awesome weapons skills. Including her ex, Ian, and his brother Jamie. And dealing with the real life issues that persist alongside the undead even after an apocalypse. 

Layla is a great lead. She's real. She's not your cookie cutter Urban Fantasy heroine, with endless supplies of snark and sassiness in the face of practically everything no matter how inappropriate it is. She's genuine. She cares. Even for an ex that betrayed her. As one human should care for another. She's ethical, she has rules, she's loyal to the people around her and refuses to abandon them even when it might be the practical thing to do. She's strong, smart, and a born leader who you can't help but respect and admire. She's a survivor.

Even in a post apocalyptic world, things tend to fall into some sort of routine, and just when the reader thinks that the survivors are basically living stable lives (as stable as can be in a zombie infested world) things change. And wow. I did not expect any of the stuff that followed. Without giving too much away, I'll just say this: Now that human beings are no longer dominating the earth, it becomes pretty obvious we were predictably foolish and naive enough to believe we were the only "intelligent" beings on the planet. And now the others might be coming out to play.

Zombie apocalypse you say?
As the undead problem seems to be getting worse, and with some of the undead behaving strangely, it seems almost too good to be true when strangers show up to offer refuge to the residents of Hamletville. The strangers raised the hairs at the back of my neck, and Layla doesn't trust them either. But with her group of survivors voting to take their chances with them, Layla follows. And surviving becomes trickier than ever. 

This story had a bit of everything. Romantic angst, a heroine learning to live up to her potential and dealing with all kinds of spirits helping her out, zombies, folklore, magic, medieval weapons and a woman who knows exactly what to do with them, and lots of everyday people drama to keep things from getting too fantastical. And just when you think you've gotten to know the enemy, the ground shifts beneath you and you're scrambling to hold on and figure out what's going on.

The old world lore in The Harvesting was fascinating, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to where the story is going. It gets you hooked from the cryptic phone call in Chapter one, and keeps you interested and invested with everything that follows until the very end! With lots of nail biting and suspense in the middle!

I mistakenly thought it would be a bit like The Walking Dead, and I was perfectly okay with that but there is so much more happening. If you're looking for a well paced, absolutely riveting, smart, suspenseful fantasy read crawling with zombies and other things that go bump in the night, and you like your heroines to be smart, practical strategists, skilled in medieval and modern day weaponry, this is the book for you! I can't wait to read the next installment!

This Wench Rates it :


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