Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Amish vs. the Vampires?! What??!!

The Amish Life, or Plain Folk Life, is somewhat of a mystery in a world controlled by technology. We can't even step outside our doors in the morning without our automatic coffee makers, iPhones, checking our email, and hopping into our cars. So how do people live and thrive in the modern world without those things? In The Hallowed Ones, Laura Bickle's breakout novel, all you need is a little faith.

Katie is ready for Rumspringa, the Amish tradition of allowing their children to experience the English world before making the decision to become baptized and adopt Plain life. She loves her family and her life, but she can't help but think there is more out there. When something goes horribly awry in the English world, the Elders decide to shut the gates to the outside world permanently: no one in and no one out. This is hardest for the people who have family on the outside, but Elijah, the boy Katie can imagine herself marrying someday, takes it the hardest. His two younger brothers are outside, and he insists on finding them. He and Katie go to town only to find bloody remnants and a destroyed, empty town, but they never find the boys. It is clear something has happened, but they have no idea what could have erased an entire town.

When Katie finds a stranger, and Englishman, just outside the gates, she calls upon the Elders. They decide to uphold their decree that the gates were sealed, and even consider shooting the man, but Katie stops them. She invokes their sense of faith which says God decides when it is time to leave the earth, not a man with a gun. They intend on leaving the man outside the gate to die, but Katie wouldn't be able to live with herself. Once she has him secure in a barn, she realizes he needs medicine, and the Amish don't have antibiotics. She decides to break the rules and sneak into town for medicine. She finds what she needs, but she also stumbles upon the cause of all the destruction: the undead vampires that have turned the English into cattle. Barely making it home, Katie must now find a way to save her people, but how to you convince someone to believe in vampires and protect against them when they don't even believe in using a car?

I thought this was a simple Amish story when I picked it up, but a crazy apocalyptic Amish vampire story? I NEVER would have thought of that!! Talk about an original idea- I mean, seriously, Ms. Bickle, where did you come UP with such a story? And with so many odd things thrown together, there was a dangerous chance the story would end up incongruous or just plain weird, but that wasn't the case- instead it was terrifying and addictive. I couldn't put it down!! And here is the thing I loved about it: I loved that it was a snapshot of typical Amish life while also being a spooky supernatural story. I really came to understand the fictionalized Amish town through this story, and the culture is so fascinating, I wanted more! 

Katie is also an incredibly interesting character to follow. She is torn about her faith, and that is the basis of the entire story. But when push comes to shove, I love that her very own faith in her God and her beliefs, the very ones she has questioned, are what saved her. She knows the limits of pure faith, but is also a spitfire who will never give up on survival. It was a fascinating combination in one character, and it kept me from putting the book down until I had devoured it! And the vampires? Let's just say there are no sparkly vampires in this neck of the woods. These are some creepy monsters that will give you nightmares for sure! So, are you looking for something fresh and original? Then pick up The Hallowed Ones. I guarantee there isn't another story like it out there!!

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