Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

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I received this book for free from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura BickleThe Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Series: The Hallowed Ones #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 25th 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, YA
Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Buy on Amazon

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.

Whoa! Who knew a story set in an Amish community could be so spine-chillingly gory! The Hallowed Ones is for every post-apocalyptic fan out there. It offers originality in its setting and a freakish paranormal aspect. It offered a lot more than I expected.

Katie is about to get her first taste of the outside world when all of a sudden that world gets dark and creepy. First there’s a helicopter crash where Katie glimpses at something quite eerie. Then she finds the town desolate and empty when she goes to try to find two of their own who never came home. Something is definitely not right. The creep factor makes itself present very early on in this novel, showering each page with this tense uncertainty. Even though things start happening quickly, The Hallowed Ones is a very character oriented thriller that advances at a brisk, but unhurried pace. We get to learn a lot about this Amish community; how they live, the laws that guide their lives and decisions, and how they have been kept safe from the end of the world so far. While it obviously has to have religious undertones, it never goes beyond the necessary. Don’t let this scare you off either, I’m the kind of reader who would rather stay away from anything religious in books and I was nothing but fascinated with the role that the Amish culture plays in this story.

The apocalypse arrives quickly and suddenly, as it would. Since it’s told through Katie’s point-of-view, we don’t quite know what’s going on right away. As we slowly learn the conditions of Outside, we’re filled with anxiety and fear of what we’ll come across next. Murderous, blood thirsty creatures is not what you ever expect to find on an errand run, that’s for sure. The suspense is never ending, the threat is omnipresent, and the terror is very real. There is no sugar coating the massacres we come upon either, made considerably real due to the Amish culture who take care of their own dead – from the clean up to the burial. The creatures causing this are part science, part paranormal – at least that’s what’s theorized by our knowledge of them so far. It borrows greatly from classic tales, but the author sticks to the most primitive, vicious side of their lore. There is still much more to learn about them, including where they came from, in the following installments, at least that’s what I’m assuming.

In my opinion, the creatures were not the only aspects of horror in The Hallowed Ones. I was quite horrified by how the elders reacted in parts. This is the end of the world, yet they refuse to consider the realities of what’s happening, even though it means certain death to the whole community as well as the person they ban for trying to keep everyone safe and alive. It makes you question a lot of things in terms of belief and values, whether you agree with it or not.

Well researched, atmospheric, and surprisingly horrific, The Hallowed Ones is one suspenseful novel you will not want to put down!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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23 Responses to “Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle”

  1. Pili

    Agreed 100%! I absolutely loved this one! I had never read anything about the Amish before and finding about their traditions and beliefs was very interesting. And damn if it wasn’t a super creepy read! Book 2 is also quite awesome, you need to check it out, Giselle.

  2. Alice

    Ohhhh! A story set in the Amish community! This sounds particularly freaky and intriguing. Always on the hunt for books with a relatively unique setting. I’ll look into reading this one sometime soon for sure.
    Great review Giselle! <3

  3. Maya @ The Book Nook

    Hmm, sounds interesting! I don’t mind books with religion in them, so long as they’re not preachy (in which case, nothing annoys me more!) and I like reading about different cultures. Great review!

  4. Savannah

    I never heard of this book but your review has caught my attention. And I love a good thriller. I think I saw this book at Target so next time I’m there I will grab it.

  5. Jenni

    I actually ended up DNFing this one way back because the beginning felt much too heavy on religion for me. I don’t deal with that well! Happy that you liked it!

  6. Candace

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book! I was a little afraid of the horror aspects though so I’m on the fence still. I might pick it up from the library though.

  7. Bonnie

    You may have convinced me to give this one a shot. I was leery of it because of the religiousy bits.. glad to know it’s not too much!

  8. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    I’ve heard thousands of wonderful things about this book, and I’ve had my eye on it for a while. It sounds so terrifyingly creepy and the fact that it’s set in an Amish county adds a bigger appeal to it. I’ve never read a book set in an Amish setting, but why not start with a zombie apocalypse? Go big or go home, right? 🙂

    Fantastic review, Giselle! I’m glad that one exceeded your expectations, the apocalyptic aspect always adds an intriguing element.

  9. Aylee

    Wow, I’m surprised that a story about an Amish community would turn out to be so gory, as well! There’s something about a setting in which you are not expecting horror that makes the story all the more chilling. Awesome. I really want to read this now! Thanks for the great review, Giselle!!

  10. Tina

    Well, when you give something 4 stars I just feel like I need to write it, haha. Also, I do love a good Amish story and especially a good post-apocalyptic story! Great review!

  11. ShootingStarsMag

    Wow, this sounds awesome. I’ve seen it around but never really gave it much thought. I don’t like overly religious books, but when it’s an aspect of something larger, I don’t mind.

  12. Molli

    At first I was wary of this one when it came out, and wondered if it would be good. But I’ve read several great reviews, now yours. You’re making me reconsider shying away from it, Giselle! I love that you said it’s creepy, and it seems very blunt about things. Plus the whole Amish setting is such a draw!

  13. Braine Talk Supe

    First time here although I follow you… sorry, remedying that ASAP!

    Anyway, this is my first Amish themed book and like you, it’s not the vampires that shocked me. It’s really how they wanted to hold on to their beliefs and tradition even if it’s already obsolete. Great review!

  14. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I’ve been fascinated about this book ever since I’ve heard ‘Amish’ and ‘zombies’ in the same sentence. I think it’s also good that there is some horror around the reaction of other people. It’s realistic that also the dark side of humans comes up when they face an apocalypse like this! Awesome review, you reminded me that I need to get a copy.