Book Review - THE HALLOWED ONES by Laura Bickle
After the end of the Outside world, the Plain folk survived.
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time of year Amish teenagers are allowed to venture Outside and partake in the activities known to other regular teens. She and her best friend, Elijah, plan on making it the best time ever before they decide whether or not to join the Amish Church. It’s all going according to plan until news from the Outside reaches their area. Something has happened and it’s not good. Mrs. Parsall, an Outsider who sells the puppies Katie’s dog’s birth, hears from her husband via cell that a contagion has been let loose and this virus seems to be turning people into monsters. And when Elijah’s two brothers fail to return home from work, the Elders order the gates shut, believing them to be dead. No one is allowed in or out.
Then Katie stumbles upon a young man named Alex badly injured by their fence. Though an Outsider, she cannot leave him for the creatures, who seem to be unable to come onto their land. Hiding him in the barn, Katie treats his wounds and learns more about what happened. Alex reveals that he was working with his girlfriend in a lab when they discovered the monsters are in fact vampires. Attacked, he managed to escape and found himself at the edge of their community. Hard to believe at first, Katie eventually experiences the horror first hand, yet tries to go about her life as normal as possible. With the help of Alex, Mrs. Parsall, and the Hexenmeister, an strange old man who paints the hex signs displayed throughout the community, Katie secretly attempts to protect her people until a vicious murder occurs that makes her fear the vampires have found a way in.
My family and I are frequent visitors to Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We appreciate their faith and wonderfully crafted furniture. Our entire dining room is Amish made and it is the most durable pieces ever to grace our home. Shameless plug. When I saw that this book combined two of my favorite things (vampires and Amish culture) I couldn’t resist picking it up. And I wasn’t disappointed. Bickle has weaved a truly harrowing tale that begs the question: What would you do if everything around you crumbled? Would you go about as normally as possible or would you want to know what happened? This is Katie’s dilemma as she struggles to remain an obedient Amish member while her inquisitive nature yearns for the truth.
Squeamish readers should be cautious. Bickle’s descriptions of the killings are incredibly detailed. Katie’s innocent eyes are not given a leeway to the destruction these creatures do and, therefore, neither are ours. Beneath the monster tale there also lays two subplots: a peek into Amish civilization and a romance. The author does a fantastic job of including these without them overshadowing the real story. Readers who knew little about the Amish and their ways will end this book with more knowledge and, hopefully, a deeper understanding. And the romance moves at such a realistic pace I never felt that I was being bombarded with teenage lust, which often occurs in young adult novels and can get tedious.
THE HALLOWED ONES is a rare vampire story. No sparking skin or “vegetarians” in this lot. These creatures will leave a mess. Horror fans should definitely enjoy this book. Even non horror fans. The blend of Amish way of life and vampires may seem odd at first, but Bickle merges them flawlessly, giving the reader a uniquely creepy experience.