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The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak
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The Harvesting

by Melanie Karsak

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My original The Harvesting audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak is a riveting horror and love story. Layla Petrovich is summoned home by her elderly psychic grandmother. Grandmother Petrovich gives Layla duties to perform and vague instructions; like a dutiful granddaughter, Layla follows them to a T – well, except for the part that makes her deal with her past boyfriend who dumped her to marry someone else.

Shortly after arriving home, Grandmother Petrovich becomes an undead victim of the vicious and deadly virus that has hit humanity. Layla must make hard decisions that may save her small piece of the world or condemn all those she has loved and cared for to die. Inheriting her grandmother’s psychic visions, Layla receives help from many unseen allies – forest sprites, animal totems and grandmother Petrovich.

Layla thought her only concerns were the walking zombies but she soon discovers there are far more deadly monsters out there that want to eat her friends.

The Harvesting is an interesting spin on surviving the zombie apocalypse by using the spirit world for guidance and the tie in of other monsters threatening humankind. I enjoyed the twists and turns, the romance was not sickening but rather presented in a stand-offish manner making it more believable. The dialog was well utilized in every aspect of the book.

I enjoyed the characters – Karsak presented each character with the right cues to make them loved, hated or indifferent. Layla is the sword wielding, Russian warrior who will save her friends regardless of who gets in her way with deliberate and deadly thrusts and slashes of her Shashka. Tough as nails but vulnerable as well, Layla is exciting and what most every girl wants to be when she grows up – a woman warrior! She does not dwarf the other characters, they are allowed to grow and show as much depth as Layla.

The presence of other beings simply affirms Layla’s acceptance of savior and wise, warrior woman.

Kristin James did a good job of narration given the accents and Russian words she had to pronounce. Both Kristin and the book kept my attention! Karsak being a B.R.A.G. medallion winner is icing on the cake – this is a must read for lovers of horror!

There were no issues with production.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Feb 25, 2016 |
This was such an easy read, I went through it within few hours.

A bit awkward, a bit detached like someone describes it as an outsider, but it's fast and it's crazy and it's very interesting.

Apart from Layla's Russian grandma who is called by male nickname, Layla's Russian heritage is handled well. She is an interesting woman, a medieval weapons specialist and she inherits a preternatural gift of seeing hidden things from her gran as well, so when the apocalypse begins she is ready to protect a small town where she grew up from the hoards of zombies.

However, this is not a very predictable book, because there are not only zombies, there are other preternatural forces at work, and along with Layla we have to figure out how to adapt to this new world and how to keep her friends alive.

I loved Layla's friends especially when they got out of Hamletville and things became more... shall I say old school horror? *grinning* I don't even want to spoil the surprise! I just had a hell of an enjoyable time, and hope you will too.

The ending is kind of bizarre as it switches to another set of characters, while I wanted to find out what happens to the set I've gotten to know, but I guess this is in preparation for the next book in the series.

Apart from that, recommended. A pretty sweet read. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
When Layla returns home, at her Grandmothers strong request, she finds the house boarded up and all sorts of supplies stocked up. Layla is concerned her grandmother is losing her mind, but she knows the woman has a strong connection with the spirits. Layla sees on the news of an outbreak of sickness that has a mortality rate of 100%, with signs of brain activity afterward... Layla drinks a special tea from her grandmother, and when she wakes the world is not as she remembers it. Layla's knowledge of swords, knives, and hunting that she's learned through her life will come in handy in the new world she's to live and survive in.

I had the great opportunity to listen to the audio book version. Kristin's work is outstanding. The emotion she shows through her voice is easy to grasp at and understand. She brings the intricately written Layla to life. She hits the rushed, horror filled moments making them pop with the suspense they are to feel and with shaking that fit's with Layla. It's like listening to a movie with the height of all emotions bubbling to the surface in her voice. She even does a Russian accent for Grandmother. I really enjoyed Kristin's work in this story! She really brought the story to life.

Between Melanie's writing and Kristin's reading, I even teared up at the thought of why Grandmother did all she did. And even a few other times through the book I felt caught up in the world with the characters, hurting for what they had to do.

Starting the book I knew from the description and others that there is a battle coming. Listening to the stocking Grandma is doing, the weapons she's collecting, and getting to know Layla and her Grandma has caught my attention right off. I want to know all! Grandma is scaring Layla, and making anxious as well. Then the moment comes. It's rough seeing the place Layla grew up go through all they have to bare. The people of this town have to come to grips with killing those they loved in life when they die. It's heart wrenching listening to how these people remember everyone and have to put them to their final resting place.

This book is full of all emotions. Love of loss, love blooming, and scary and rushed adrenaline moments. All blends together with action and emotions wonderfully in this world. Well done Melanie!

I love the subtle blends that Melanie has brought to the story. There feels to have nature and American Indian influences in the spirits around the Hamletville. The wood spirits around the area, and everywhere, is a helping hand for Layla. The world has changed, and they are able to suggest things in small ways.

Just when I thought I was settling in, the story has a turn that brings us to something new! Oh this was wonderful! This story has so much more than I was ever expecting to read. We struggle through in Hamletville with Layla and those that survive, but then to come upon another obstacle in their lives and choices they made. Oh a new foe appears and is exciting to see!

There is a bit of love in the book as well. Layla returns home, where her ex-boyfriend and the love of her youth still lives. But there is a potential other interest. It's not a three way that we all see all the time. Actually, Layla has her mind made up early on, it's that one of them has to get it through their skull that there's not a chance with her. And, I'm thrilled with the one she picks. He's TOTALLY the right choice.

Layla is a wonderful lead character. She's the strong woman that I would love to be in this situation. She is knowledgeable from her history studying and profession. She's also kick arse with a sword and guns, yet she's not one with a large head that takes charge. She's respected by all that know her and knew her grandmother, and she's looked to for help and advice. She's amazing.

If you haven't read or listened to this one, you SHOULD! I listened to that audio and man... this is an AMAZING combo of writing by Melanie and voice by Kristin. If you are a UF fan, you'll will enjoy this. ( )
  MelHay | Oct 25, 2015 |
The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak is an apocalyptic, dystopian, paranormal novel that will have you dodging the undead while trying to survive. The characters will have to avoid the zombies as they search for life’s necessities, such as food and clothing. I love it when a book hooks me from the very beginning and The Harvesting did just that. I read the novel from cover to cover in less than five hours and hated to see it end.

Layla works at the Smithsonian. She received a grant and is able to share her love of fencing, along with teaching about ancient weapons and how to use them. She is a warrior and will need all her skills to survive. I liked Melanie’s description of her – a cross between Mad Max and an Eskimo.

I fell in love with her psychic grandma. A tough old bird that knows bad times are coming. I am sad, yet I smile right along with grandma.

Grandma calls Layla home. Layla knew it had to be bad, so she dropped everything and raced to Hamletville. The name alone gives me a spooky and unpleasant feeling.

“Harvesting Grandma?”

“Oh yes, it is definitely harvesting season.”

Layla and her grandma stocked up on food, weapons and other emergency supplies, as if to hunker down for a war. I can see Gram with a Colt 9mm submachine gun blasting away at anything that threatened her or hers.

Oh man, I knew it was gonna be bad, but when grandma disappeared my heart fell. Melanie where did you come up with that awful gruesome idea?

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Yeah right. You would need to kick ass and take names, if you wanted to be around tomorrow. It is the Wild West and the enemy is you and yours. Imagine having to kill your undead husband, wife, child, friend……

The zombies are just what you think they would be and the fight is a gruesome and savage slaughter. The walking dead will not stop, until you stop them. Whether you tear their heads off or rip them apart limb by limb, you must make sure they cannot get up again. Blood, guts and body parts fly.

The Harvesting has everything you could want in a zombie apocalypse novel. Melanie includes a surprise or two that made me cringe and my mouth drop open. What? I wonder how she came up with that? I fear for Layla and what may befall her.

The combination of zombies, the apocalypse and the paranormal creates a story that left me wanting more. It is after the apocalypse, now what? ( )
  sherry69 | Jul 22, 2014 |
This book continually surprised me. I thought is was going to be a zombie, apocalyptic story but suddenly found myself in the fantasy genre. Strong female lead. I enjoyed it immensely. ( )
  hopebird | May 7, 2014 |
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