Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
Genre: YA, Horror, Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic, Paranormal > Vampires
Literary Award(s): Amelia Bloomer Book List for Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Paperback: 311 Pgs
Plot: 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.
I used to live in New Jersey and every summer I would go to girl scout camp (what??) in Pennsylvania. On the drive, we’d always pass Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is like the hub of the Amish. Therefore, in my review, I’m totally going to know what I’m talkin’ about (LIES!).
The Hallowed Ones is genuinely horrifying, so for those who don’t like Horror, stay away. But, if you like horror THAN COME HITHER.
First of all, the pacing for this book is amazing--I read it in one sitting. It progresses quickly from the beginning, with Katie getting ready for the Rumspringa, a time when Amish youth leave their isolated community to experience the Outside world, but soon escalates into a suspenseful thriller. Where have all the people in the town outside the community disappeared to? Why can't Mrs. Parsall (the Outsider woman visiting at the time of the apocalypse) reach her family with her cell phone? Why is the unconscious Outsider boy Katie finds outside the gate close to death? The suspense builds until the reveal of the monsters on page 113... and then the shit hits the fan.
Katie, as the heroine of The Hallowed Ones, is an awesome narrator. (She's, like, the opposite of annoying). What I love about Katie (and maybe about the philosophy of the book itself) is that Katie questions the world as she knows it, yet still retains belief in what she believes to be right.
Near the beginning, Katie finds an unconscious, half-dying Outsider boy outside the gates of the community. At first, she does what she's been taught to do. She tells the Elders of the community about the boy, thinking they will help him. When the Elders refuse to save him; instead, leaving him to die, Katie pleads for them to "Let God decide" (81). Again, they refuse.
She goes back to help him herself. Here's her line of thinking:
What I really like about this sequence of events is that it shows the strength and self-understanding that Katie possesses. She goes from A: Doing what she's been taught--Informing the Elders of the problem. To B: Continuing to believe in what she believes, directly calling out the hypocrisies of the Elders--It is not for them to decide if the Outsider should live, it is for God to decide. To C: Going back to save the boy herself...and not because she's righteous or working under the hand of God, but because she feels "sympathy" and "outrage" that he should be left for dead. Afterwards, she even questions whether or not she was right in saving him. Katie runs the gamut of actions and emotions (in this one scene, and in all the dilemmas she faces) and she comes out on top, for me, as the heroine I'm rooting for.Whether the victim would be the young man in the barn or some harm befalling our community, I could not pretend that this was some minor crime [saving the boy against the wishes of the Elders]. I had been buoyed by my outrage, by my sympathy yesterday. Perhaps I wasn’t thinking clearly. Perhaps, as my father said, I allowed myself to be led too much by my heart (90).
She's also, just, plain smart. When she has to choose between wearing a beautiful blue dress to a party or a plain brown dress, she chooses the brown dress because it's HARDER TO SEE IN THE DARK, and she suspects there's something out in the dark (even if no one else does). Smart girl.
The side characters are also very interesting in this novel, and not all of them make it to the end, in true horror-style fashion. Notable characters include mysterious Outsider Alex, Katie's childhood friend/fiance Elijah, and the community Hexenmeister, a master of symbols who knows how to fight against the Dark.
I could make the argument that The Hallowed Ones is New Adult horror, mostly b/c of how mature Katie is (her exact age isn't given, either), how mature the romance is (the love interest is 24), and how elevated the philosophy of the book is--who has the power to fight the Dark. Is it God? Why are the Amish [somewhat] protected, but not the Outside? ::spoiler:: The idea that Katie and Alex come up with is that it's the belief in something good, which can defeat the Dark, whether it's a community of Amish people or a Jewish synagogue or a coven of witches. As Alex says, "These places are sacred. Sacred to someone" (150).
Recommended: For fans of YA and Horror. Read this if you liked Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules or Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth.
Rating: 5/5--The Hallowed Ones is tightly plotted, with a strong heroine, with real horror and gore, as well as being extremely philosophical and intelligent.
Get it here: For 1.99 at Amazon.
What's next? The sequel, The Outside, comes out September 3, 2013.