by Melanie Karsak
Series: Harvesting #2
Genres: Paranormal, Horror, Fantasy
When Layla took the final step through the labyrinth, she thought she was saving the ones she loved. She couldn’t have been more wrong. The unwitting victims of a grudge seething for eons, Layla and the other survivors now find themselves in a war for our world. With vampires lurking and shapechangers plotting vengeance, if mankind has any hope of survival, Layla must decide whom to trust: the carnie girl? The quiet doctor? The tarot reader? The stranger with alluring gold eyes? Or the man she loves? And then there are the voices. What does it forewarn if the dead can speak? When the world burns, mankind’s shadow side rises. Do we deserve to survive?
After loving the Harvesting, I was excited to begin The Shadow Aspect by Melanie Karsak, the second novel in her Harvesting series. Karsak perfectly blends fantasy and horror creating a tantalizing, nail-biting story that kept me on edge.
I loved the Harvesting, which started out like a typical zombie apocalypse and quickly blew my mind. Midway, a novella in the series gave us Cricket’s story and it totally rocked. Shadow Aspect picks up right where the Harvesting left off and we wasted no time diving right back into the action.
Admittedly, I struggled to regain my footing and reconnect with the characters since the story dove straight back into the tale as if I simply flipped to the next page. In fact, I stopped and went back to read my review of Harvesting. I am glad that I did, because the opening scenes were intense as our group suffered losses, and faced danger. After my refresher, I quickly slipped into the story and reconnected with the main characters. In this instance, I think a recap or prologue would have been beneficially.
This time we find ourselves in a different setting as we are introduced to new characters. Layla is uncertain of whom to trust but she is stubbornly determined to keep her group safe. They find themselves at the mercy of another group of humans who have found sanctuary with the walls of a university. Tristan, whom we met towards the end of Midway, is present, as is Cricket. They both will play an integral part in the story as it unfolds. The romance between Layla and James continues, as do other budding relationships showing that even at the end of times, we are capable of happy moments. These are secondary to the main plot, but serve to flesh out our characters and endear them to the reader.
Zombies are still wreaking havoc, as are the vampires but Karsak has hinted at more throughout the series and we finally learn that we are the unwitting victims of a battle that has raged for eons. She weaves a complex tale, with foreshadowing and strong, unique characters. A woman within the group reads tarot cards and her readings are uncanny. A Doctor tries to find a cure, and Layla makes a startling discovery. Tristan shows himself, and oh lordy things are about to get complicated. Brilliant and original I become completely caught up in the story.
The Shadow Aspect was action-packed, with intense battle scenes that will leave you biting your nails. Think Walking Dead with supernatural and paranormal twists. Karsak is a genre bender taking my love of zombie apocalypses and weaving in a surprising fantasy aspect that held me spellbound. Her characters are strong, particularly her female characters who are not afraid to leap into battle and take heads. I loved it, but do not become attached because Karsak will rip your heart out and leave you bawling.
The Shadow Aspect ends with nail-biting cliffhanger. No! No! No! I slammed the book shut and screamed. You best be writing Ms. Karsak..and quickly! Please.
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