“The Harvesting” by Melanie Karsak – good ideas marred by shallow characters and romance clichés

The Harvesting

There’s a lot to like in “The Harvesting”: a kick-ass, sword-wielding, bike-riding, dagger-throwing heroine who is calm under pressure, leads well and is gifted with The Sight, inherited from her Russian grandmother.

There is a zombie apocalypse with lots of walking, biting dead who need to be decapitated, shot through the head, or blown apart with cannon every few pages. There is also a more sinister, more malicious threat, seeking to entrap the good guys and there is the intervention of various spirit forms to guide our heroine along the way.

There are enough fresh twists in the way the supernatural is presented to give this novel a fresh feel. The action scenes work and the tension is ratcheted-up by the pace of the reveal.

All this made “The Harvesting” a fun book to listen to as I spent hours driving across Switzerland over the past couple of days.

There are a few things that keep it in the “fun, but…” rather than the “wow, when’s the next one” category for me.

The main character is caring, brave and sometimes insightful but still amazingly shallow: her world has ended; her adopted city has been blown off the map;  she’s back in the small town she came from, huddled up with the few who have survived and yet there is no sense of shock or loss or depression. She is fully absorbed in deciding whether she should sleep with her ex-boyfriend, now conveniently widowed, or with his brother.

The scenes between our heroine and the men in her life read like paint-by-numbers romance fodder: eyes twinkle, mouths taste sweet, heat blossoms, love is absolute. This is a shame as some of the rest of the writing is hard-edged and fresh.

“The Harvesting” is the start of a series. I hope, by the next one, Melanie Karsak will spend less time on romance and more on exploring the inside of her heroine’s head.

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