Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Hallowed Ones (#1)

The Hallowed Ones (#1)
Laura Bickle
Graphia, 2012
$8.99, Softcover

Genre: Horror
Age: 12+
Description: Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world, come back to the community, and then decide to voluntarily commit themselves to their faith and get baptized. However, the real world comes to her in a horrifying way. A small airplane crash lands in their village and Katie finds no survivors. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound as one of their friends from the outside is stuck in the village and can’t reach anyone through phone or email. It seems as if something murderous is out there. So the Amish elders make a rule—no one will go outside and no one will come inside. However, when Katie finds a near-death injured young man, Alex, she can’t just leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s deserted barn but at what cost?
Opinion: Pretty much you can read any review of this title and discover what the threat is—it is interesting though that it is kind of a cross between vampire and zombie mythology. The people are infected and the “virus” passed along like a zombie plague and they destroy their victims like a zombie would, but the creatures are also cognitive, can control minds to lure victims, talk and think, and drink blood like vampires. However, in the book they are called vampires by Alex who happens to be an anthropologist student who likes cultural myths. Overall, it is a unique mix. You can feel for the creatures because there is some humanity to them but at the same time they are horrifying in their destruction so they are scary too. The close-mindedness of the Amish elders can be infuriating at times (such as when the elders decide to leave Alex’s life to the will of God), but is understandable because of their religiously cloistered nature and their desire to save the members of their community. The information about the Amish way of life is intermingled in a way that is interesting and educational at the same time for people who don’t know anything about the Amish. Katie is a strong-willed girl who believes in her faith but quite possibly might be one of those girls who goes on her Rumspringa and doesn’t return to the village as she is too invested in the “outside” world and her own personal morality (such as wanting to try and save Alex’s life or risking her own life to go outside the community into an infected town to bring back vital supplies including a cell phone charger so her outside friend can try to call her husband and children and see if they are still alive) seems too much at odds with the elders’ strict beliefs. The suspense and mythology behind the creatures is well crafted. There are some violent moments, including the description of a graphically violent death of a whole family but it is offset with the touching moments of Amish life—as the whole town doesn’t want anything to do with the murders and it is Katie and an elderly midwife who prepare the bodies according to their faith’s customs. There will be a sequel entitled The Outside which I am eager for. However, I am mad that the current Amazon entry for the sequel says that it will be hardcover when the first book was a paperback. It is slated to come out in September.

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