You would think that a book featuring the Amish and vampires would be totally campy? You might even write it off, like I did at first. But then, you’d definitely be missing out on The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle an excellent story featuring the vampires of yore, the scary suck all your blood kind. The Hallowed Ones took me completely by surprise. I thought it might be entertaining and kind of silly, but instead I was utterly captivated by main character Katie’s story as she questions her faith in a world facing the vampire apocalypse.
The Hallowed Ones opens with Katie looking forward to Rumspringa. Rumspringa is the time in an Amish teenager’s life where they get to try life on the Outside before being baptized in the Amish faith. It allows them to get the Outside out of their system and so that they know full well what they are giving up after baptism. Unfortunately for Katie, she won’t get her rumspringa. Instead, she will find a world torn apart by vicious vampires. Yet, the Plain folk remain untouched. To stay safe, the Bishop commands that nobody come in and nobody leave. However, when a stranger finds his way onto the Plain folk land, Katie takes him in out of compassion. Will she unwittingly unleash an evil on her fellow people?
I cannot praise Katie as a character highly enough. As she is Amish, I thought she would be kind of a stick in the mud and preachy. While Katie starts the book rigid in her faith, we see that she’s actually not a stick in the mud. Instead, Katie has a killer sense of humor, often making me laugh. She is courageous, and does put a lot on the line to do what she believes to be the right thing. Even when that right thing is counter to what the Bishop orders. Further, Katie is intelligent and can think for herself. She does a lot of questioning in The Hallowed Ones both of the rigid orders and her faith.
What I loved about Laura Bickle’s The Hallowed Ones and what seemed to set it apart from other young adult books, for me, was the use of faith as a theme. The discussion and examination of religion and belief never gets preachy. I never felt like I was being asked to convert to Christianity or anything. Rather, Katie’s faith is tested. She finds herself constantly questioning her religious doctrine and what’s going on in the Outside. She questions the Bishop’s insistence that the Plain folk are chosen because they were spared. I thought that Katie’s faith was pretty strong because it stands up to testing. It just felt true and real. Faith also plays a huge part when it comes to the vampires. The glimpse of the different types of faith is very well done by Laura Bickle.
Another fantastic element incorporated within The Hallowed Ones is folklore. The vampires in this book are the sort where you have to stuff their mouths with garlic and chop their heads off, but you also need to stake them. I found the inclusion of the Hexenmeister, one of the characters, to be utterly fascinating. You see, the Hexenmeister goes around painting signs and hexes on the buildings of the Plain folk. Almost everyone in the community lets him be, assuming he’s a little bit crazy. He plays a pretty sizable role, though. Plus, Alex, another character, is obsessed with folklore. His stories about old religions are perfectly weaved in the plot and were one of my favorite parts.
You might be entirely skeptical of The Hallowed Ones based on it’s premise, but please don’t write it off. You would definitely be missing out on a fabulous read. It’s my hope that The Hallowed Ones does not end up flying under the radar, but that it truly gets the attention and buzz it deserves. Trust me, if you’ve think you’ve read it all when it comes to vampires, you haven’t.
Disclosure: Received for review
Other reviews of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle:
The Allure Of Books – “Whoa mama, y’all. Laura Bickle ain’t messin’ around.”
Carina’s Books – “Because it was epic. And awful. And perfect.”
Stitch – Read – Cook – “kept me on the edge of my seat”