by Laura Bickle
Series: Hallowed Ones #1
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?
In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror… Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world.
Something is out there...and it is making a killing. Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?
I was dying to get my hands on the Hallowed Ones and patiently waited for it to be released in eBook format since I set a goal to only buy eBooks in 2012. I even entered contests to win it! Grrr! I was so thrilled when I saw it on B&N and consumed this on Halloween Day. What a perfect read for All Souls Day. Bickle’s novel blends the Amish world with the vampire world in this post-apocalyptic novel and I loved every minute of it. The first in the Hallowed Ones series this offered up some horror, fascinating characters and set the stage for things to come.
The tale begins when we meet Katie, a young Amish girl on the verge of Rumspringa. She is daydreaming about her adventure when a helicopter crashes into the cornfields. As she calls for help and attempts to save those inside, she sees the pilot pulled back into the cockpit by a thing with glowing red eyes. When the outside world fails to send help and two Amish boys fail to return home at the end of the work day, the small settlement realizes something is dreadfully wrong. Unsure what has happened, the Elders order the gates closed. No one goes in or out. Katie finds an injured young man by the fence and the tale that unfolded kept me riveted.
The plot was fantastic, but Katie made the tale come to life. I really adored this bright, young woman with a weakness for coca-cola and comic magazines. Her world is turned upside down, yet she hungers for truth and despite fear of God, the Elders and her family her own moral compass steers her. She struggles with Gelassenheit (God’s will) and at times does things to save her people despite the fear of being banished. Alex, the young injured man was interesting, and I am looking forward to getting to know him more. Ginger, an English woman, separated from her family and trapped on the farm was a strong, silent presence. She helped remind us how truly different the Plain folk were from the outside world. Elijah, the young Amish man she is intended for had me wavering in my feelings for him. I loved the Hexenmeister and found both him and his role fascinating. The two love interests in Katie’s life were very different and each represented a different path. The romance was sweet and felt genuine.
The world-building was dark and horrifying. From the first few pages, I was enthralled and could not put this book down. While there are no new elements, Bickle cleverly weaved the Amish, religion, and vampires into a tale that I will not soon forget. I liked her straightforward writing style, and grasp of the characters. The suspense was constant as she slowly revealed revelations as the tale demanded them. The tale ends on a cliffhanger. The tale felt finished, but the ending did pose questions and left a few unanswered. What will happen to Katie and her friends? What is happening outside? How did the vampires come to be? I simply cannot wait to read the Outside book two in this series.
I highly recommend the Hallowed Ones to fans of suspenseful horror and fascinating characters. So grab a flashlight, cuddle under the covers with enjoy! The Outside is scheduled to release in the fall of 2013.
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