Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hallowed Ones

by Laura Bickle
Read: October 26-28, 2012
Published: September 25, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library book
Category: Horror/Alternate History YA

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning. (from Goodreads)

I will admit that I was very skeptical about a book that combines the Amish with vampires. I think the Amish culture is fascinating and I don't mind vampire books, but I couldn't see putting them together in any way that wasn't cheesy. I'm glad I paid attention to all the great reviews and picked up this book anyway! 

Laura Bickle took time in The Hallowed Ones to introduce the reader to the Amish culture and beliefs, and I really enjoyed getting to know them. There are things that I admire about the Amish. They work hard, are not glued to technology or stimulants, crime is nonexistent and life is stable and predictable. They do not worry over things that they cannot control. Even big events like the terrorist attacks on 9/11, although acknowledged as a tragedy, did not rattle their carefully constructed world. That is because the Amish believe strongly in the concept of Gelassenheit or God's will. Whatever happens in life is because God wills it and you must submit and not worry. Despite your opinion of their religious beliefs and rules, there's a certain simplicity in the way they live. But their whole way of life is rattled when a threat comes that does shake them.

The Amish culture makes it even more frightening when something comes that these people cannot control. When a threat arrives that they can't escape. This is an insulated society with limited contact with the outside world, and the author did an excellent job at using that to increase the tension. Letting the danger creep in slowly. All along you know that something is coming, but have no idea when it will arrive or what exact form it will take. I love how well Ms. Bickle builds the anticipation

I was surprised at how many reasons I found to like reading an apocalyptic book from the perspective of someone who is Amish. For one, the people are well equipped to survive if disaster strikes, because they are hard working and essentially live life like it is the 1800s anyway. Their belief system also brings a unique perspective to the coming threat. The way their culture understands the vampires is very different than a non-religious person would see it. For the Amish the danger is spiritual in nature. It is an evil that they must not let creep inside. It is not scientific in origin, which is where most of the rest of the world would go first looking for answers. And there is definitely some ambiguity about which group's interpretation is correct. Whatever the answer, the danger they are facing is real and it is terrifying. 

Katie is the heroine of The Hallowed Ones, and she is one of my favorite parts of this story. In many ways Katie is a typical Amish girl with a stable upbringing - a hard worker who has grown up in a loving home. When the book begins, she is excited to experience life on the Outside during Rumspringa, but that is normal for someone her age. She does not have an inherent desire to be bad or break away from the Amish and everything that she knows. But Katie also wants to be her own person. She questions and is curious, two attributes that are frowned upon in their society. Katie wants to obey but also desires to do what her heart is telling her is the right thing. I really admired her inner strength. It is the quiet kind that creates a big force. 

A very sweet, slow romance is also creeps up on Katie. It develops over a short time, but still did not feel rushed. Although only a piece of the story, it felt important, especially in terms of Katie's growth and the direction that the book takes. 

Overall The Hallowed Ones is a great read, and perfect for Halloween. It ends in a way that makes me excited for what is to come next. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Low
Rating: 4.5 stars


  1. Replies
    1. YES! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Great for halloween.

  2. Gosh, I SERIOUSLY need to read this one! I've been hearing SO much about it and I want to get my hands on it SO BADLY but my library doesn't have it! :( I'll have to see what I can do. It sounds fabulous though and I love that Katie's qualities stem from her inner strength - somehow, that always speaks to me more than kick-ass heroines. Incredible review, Lauren! :)

    1. I hope you love this one, K! I thought it was really fantastic. And a lot of that is because of how much I loved Katie. Hopefully you can get a hold of it soon.

  3. I'm with Keertana! This one was completely under my radar until a month or so ago and now everybody is talking about it. Is it just me or does it seem like there are a ton of Amish-inspired stories out there right now? Maybe they've always been out there but it seems like lately everywhere I look there are books being written form the perspective of an Amish girl in an Amish community.

    Anyway, this looks like a great read. I love scary books. I love vampire books. And to see one with a new twist is exciting. And of course, I like the slow sweet romance statement too! Great review!

    1. I think you would like this book, Heather! I haven't noticed an upswing of Amish inspired fiction, but maybe it's the next big thing (or always been there as you said). I hope you get a chance to read it.

  4. There are so many things that stand out about this review and strike me as exciting and interesting about this book that it would be pointless for me to point them all out. I just want to read it, that is all. This review is great, as always. I need to read it asap. :)

    Also, as a sidenote, I can't remember ever having read a book with Amish characters in it before.

  5. I'm really glad to see you enjoyed this one! I was super wary of the whole vampire + Amish thing before picking it up as well, it sounds SO hokey.


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