Book Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

Posted July 11, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

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

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 25, 2012
Pages: 311
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Dark Alchemy, The Outside

First in The Hallowed Ones horrifying science fiction fantasy series for Young Adult readers and revolving around a rebellious Amish girl and the end of the world.

My Take

Bickle caught me right off with “…there was no denying the dark stain spreading over the pale ceiling of our world.”

It’s an in-depth look at Plain life from the young Katie’s perspective and uses first person protagonist point-of-view, particularly effective as Katie sees events as to how they affect her and her plans for the future, moments of enlightenment flashing in as the story goes on.

The suspense was so frustrating, as Bickle danced around what was happening, scaring the characters with the bits and pieces she dribbled in. Very much as the truth would come to an isolated community.

There are aspects of Amish life I appreciated such as not obsessing over tragedies but leaving it in God’s hands. Not worrying over things beyond their control. How supportive the community is with each other, helping any who need it. I can also appreciate the practicality of Katie’s observations about those small rebellions that are allowed.

On the other hand, like Katie, I would always be questioning, not leaping to obey the Bishop. I believe in God, but I don’t believe in any organized religion or their claims that their way is the only way. And in The Hallowed Ones, Katie faces the possibility that the way of the Plain folk may not be the only way to God. That other religions are just as legitimate. Nor does it help when the Bishop demonstrates his love for power. With how it ended, I’d like to know if the betrayer is punished!

I couldn’t think or do this: “I will believe what the Elders tell us to believe.”

It’s horrible how this narrow-minded view presents those parents whose family members are missing with the nightmares of an eternity of loss. What else is horrible is the hypocrisy of the Bishop and the Elders, for all their claims of peacefulness and the care the Amish have for others, as soon as there’s a threat, they back off and close out anyone not them, and anyone who won’t obey them without question.

Oooh, I gotta say, I’m with Bickle on her refutation of today’s theories about “evil being a sickness”. That it’s all “psychological dysfunction”, “sociological inequities”, etc. Bushwah. We’ve become too concerned with saving every person, no matter how awful and wicked they are. Our lives are too easy. As Katie will discover.

I understand Elijah’s choice for himself, but that he expects Katie to follow him is totally unfair. And I’m incredibly glad Katie discovered the truth of him before it was too late.

It’s a tale that kept me on pins-and-needles, and I have got to get hold of The Outside.

The Story

It’s the death of Katie’s dreams, of the world Outside with a reported two-thirds of the population gone. No one knows what’s happened, and the Plain folk withdraw onto their lands while the Elders rule that no one may go Outside and that no Outsiders may come in.

But Katie’s heart is too filled with compassion, and she can’t leave the injured man there to die.

The Characters

The Plain folk are…
…those we know as the Amish with this community living outside the town of Torch. The Bishop leads their community with the counsel of the Elders. Frau Gerlach is the midwife. Herr Stoltz is the Hexenmeister who paints protections all over the community.

The young Katie and Elijah plan to marry one day, after they’ve experienced their Rumspringa. Sunny is the pregnant golden retriever. “Papa” is the chicken-chasing Copper. Sarah is Katie’s five-year-old sister.

Elijah Miller is apprenticing to a master carpenter and helping on his dad’s farm along with his brothers, Joseph and Seth, who are building furniture at the store in town. Star is Elijah’s favorite horse. Frau Miller died in childbirth.

Ruth Hersberger is the sixteen-year-old whom Joseph intends to marry. A friend of Elijah’s Sam Vergler is courting Hannah Bachman. She’s to be Katie’s roommate when they go on their Rumspringa. Leah is Hannah’s younger sister. Frau Mary Fisher and the sisters Rebecca and Ava Yoder are…out there.

Mrs. Ginger Parsall, an Outsider, buys the puppies Katie raises. Dan is Mrs. Parsall’s military husband stationed in Europe. Her daughter, Julia, is in California. Her son, Tom, is away at school. Schmidt is an Englisher who owns Schmidt’s General Store and gas station, which has a bulletin board where messages can be posted.

Outside is…
…where the Englisher…you and I…live in our commercial world obsessed with vanity and possessions.

Alexander Green is twenty-four, from Toronto, and visiting campuses to see where he will finish getting his doctorate in anthropology. Cassia was his girlfriend and a biology fellow at the university.

Rumspringa is a chance for young Amish men and women to “taste” the Outside before they commit to the Plain lifestyle. A Himmelsbrief is a blessing from God in the form of a letter. A Zeugnis is a marriage contract. The Ordnung are the laws of the Plain folk. Nachtesse is supper, the last meal of the day. Mindy had been a nurse Katie’s father had met on his Rumspringa.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark, as befits the story, deep grays and blacks form a nuclear landscape with Katie in profile while behind back, her white bonnet is falling down, her brown hair is blowing, and a black raven is flaring its wings open. The only other color is the peach of her arm and face. A testimonial in white is tucked into the upper left corner in a tiny print. The white title is in a gothic serif and centered across Katie’s profile. The author’s name is also in white and centered at the bottom.

The title is those who are saved, for only The Hallowed Ones are safe.

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