Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
Publisher: Harcourt
Publish Date: Sept. 25, 2012

“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? ~ Courtesy of Goodreads 

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle is a fantastically creepy experience from start to finish. Not once did I find myself bored while reading. Just read that synopsis. First off, we have some sort of world wide disaster happening, so there's a lot of excitement and danger. But The Hallowed Ones also shows you what it's like to be Amish. Learning about a culture I've never taken the time to learn about before was fun in and of itself.

The heroine, Katie, is one of the most realistic characters I have ever read. She makes reasonable and rational decisions as well. This was truly a treat for me, because I'm used to heroines in YA doing dumb things that only end up causing them more problems in the end. Even Katie's bad decisions were thought through rationally and were things that I would have done or questioned if I was in her position. Katie is also incredibly strong. Stronger than most people could ever be, put in her situation. She handles herself calmly in times of crisis and always does what she thinks is right. This is, at times, difficult for her because of her Amish upbringing, but she manages to stay true to herself and her religion as best she can while having a crisis of faith.

I admit, I don't know a lot about the Amish community, but the world Bickle creates is incredibly realistic. You learn about the Amish community through Katie's actions and dialogue and every second of it is intriguing. Everyday details conveyed in the writing make it that much more terrifying because, even though you may not be accustomed to Katie's world, you're seeing it through her eyes in a way that feels so real, so achingly familiar, that you can't help but be sucked in. And when the danger strikes, you feel that too.

Even though The Hallowed Ones is about an Amish community and Katie and her family and friends have very strong opinions about their religion, Bickle handles it in a way that feels very real. I didn't find the character's comments on God or other religions offensive, but rather, I found them enlightening. This is how a group of religious people might feel during the end of the world. They might, as Bickle suggests, shrink in upon themselves. Try to stamp out all connection to the outside world and hide. They would very likely make mistakes and, while trying to protect their community from the dangers Outside, overlook what has already found it's way in. Be it monsters, a power hungry leader, or fear itself.

There is a sort-of love triangle in The Hallowed OnesAlthough, throughout the book, it's hard to tell if it is, in fact, an actual triangle. It would be more accurately described as an amorphous shape, changing throughout the novel. We first meet Elijah, Katie's friend, expected future husband and pretty much her whole world, and he's a nice, sweet boy who seems to really care for her. Then we're introduced to the other guy. Tattooed, Outsider Alex. He's smart and funny and appreciates Katie's ability to think for herself, unlike some of the other men in the community. These boys are two halves to Katie. One representing a life in the church, the other representing life Outside, the life Katie has always dreamed about.

Thinking back, there were some issues I had with The Hallowed Ones. The character development of one of the love interests seemed a little too convenient to me. I felt he was sort of thrown under the bus by the author, but, nevertheless, I found myself shouting at the book in incredulous rage at some of his actions. Bickle had me so caught up in the emotions of the story that I barely cared whether his actions were just an easy way out. I really wished we had at least gotten to see more of what became of him at the end of the novel, though. I wished we had gotten to see more of everyone at the end of the novel. The book wasn't too long and the ending was a little abrupt, but hopefully there is a sequel in the future so I can jump back into these character's lives and see what happens!

If you enjoyed The Immortal Rules or The Hunt, you will love The Hallowed Ones! Fans of dystopian stories will enjoy reading about Katie's community and how they try to hold their lives together during the apocalypse. Be warned, though, this isn't for the weak of heart (or stomach). There is some serious gore within these pages, so if that's not your thing, you might want to pass on this one.

I don't usually post quotes in my review, but this one just sums this novel up so perfectly, I couldn't help myself.
It was nothing like you see in the movies, these creatures. There's no seduction. No passionate luring of the victim to a dark side of velvet. This is just the stinking, rotting underbelly of evil without its makeup. 
{The Hallowed Ones, Chapter 9}

For more about The Hallowed Ones check out these sites!

AmazonB&NBook DepositoryGoodreads

*All quotes are taken from an uncorrected ARC. Quotes may not match the finished copy.*


  1. Glad you like this book too! :)

    "I wished we had gotten to see more of everyone at the end of the novel. The book wasn't too long and the ending was a little abrupt.." ---- I totally agree with you. The ending was eeeeppp. I wanted more from this book.


  2. At first I wanted nothing to do with this book but then I realized it was very interesting. I'm glad that the religious aspect is done well - that's such a touchy subject that authors REALLY have to approach it carefully! I will have to check this one out. The love triangle is sort of a bummer, but hopefully I'll enjoy the story!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  3. This book seems to combine the two things I'm interested in; dystopias and Amish culture. Living in Pennsylvania where there are a whole lot of Amish, I have been really interested in understanding their culture. I definitely need to try this one if you compared it to The Hunt and The Immortal Rules.

    Thanks for the great review! The love triangle seems a little warped, but definitely sounds like an interesting one.

    Angie @YA Novelties

    1. That's cool. I can't wait to see what you think of this book since you live so close to where it's set!

  4. I got this book recently and I'm so glad you liked it! Gives me hope :)


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