eARC Review: The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Categories: Contemporary Fiction


Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy has set her career aside in order to devote her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, Jake.

The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but make a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage—she will hurt him three times.

As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return.


As I started the book, it seemed to me it would be too much of an indulgent revenge fantasy story, and it is definitely that, but it’s also an addictive read and with surprising depth. There is definitely no shortage of books about infidelity in marriage, but this one definitely stands out with its daring plot.

The author tries to give us glimpses of the life of Lucy and how she came to have this violence inside her, how the patterns of the life of her parents repeated themselves and so on, which I found a bit overdone. The interesting thing about the story, for me, was that she could have been any wife, any woman who’s been cheated on and fantasized about taking revenge. By giving Lucy so much backstory, it felt to me that she was over-explained.

If you enjoy stories about messy women making bad choices on purpose (this reminded me a bit of Supper Club in that regard: a story about women’s hunger for darker things than society expects them to), then I think this will be an enjoyable read! If you hope for a literary work with a deep exploration of relationship dynamics, violence and guilt (as I did), then you will be disappointed – this is more a revenge story that also showcases the daily pressures, trauma and violence women go through. I also expected a more lyrical prose (the blurb talks of poetic prose), but found it quite regular. As a last and petty complaint, I love magical realism in a story, and I really liked the harpy allegory, but I did not think the magical part of the story was well-executed, it felt clunky and forced.

In the end, I enjoyed the read and devoured this book, but I doubt it will be very memorable for me down the line. This is Megan Hunter’s sophomore book, and I think it was a very intriguing one even though I did not love it, and I will keep an eye out for her next books.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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