- Laura Bickle
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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?
Wow. My heart was beating so hard while reading parts of The Hallowed Ones that I think my neighbours thoughts I had taken up bongo drums! Katie has been brought up as one of the Plain people, the Amish who live off the land and keep technology to a minimum. She is weeks away from her Rumspringa, a chance to explore the outside world and decide whether she wants to choose the Amish lifestyle for herself. However, before Katie and her best friend Elijah can leave something starts to happen to the outside world...at first news is patchy, but soon it becomes clear there is something wrong, some evil outside their community...
Katie is curious about the outside world and is looking forward to seeing what else is out there in the world even though she assumes she will be returning to the Amish lifestyle eventually. Her main fault is that she thinks before she obeys the orders from her parents, the Bishop or other adults – an admirable trait to me! She follows her heart even if it’s not always the safest route and while not street-smart, she is intelligent and curious. I don’t know much about the Amish lifestyle (there aren't any in England as far as I know!), but her world feels real and natural. I assume there has been a lot research to make this world come to life so easily! I don’t to spoil anything but the events outside the Amish community, which start to encroach on them, are creepy and disturbing. The discovery of the empty town or the horse with one show still in the stirrups, are images that will stay with me for a long time.
As with her adult novels, Laura Bickle has a fantastic command over the atmosphere in her novels managing to build tension and keep you on edge. I was so tense at some points that when someone sat beside me on the train I jumped a mile! There is also tension created as Katie’s relationships with those around her changes – there are some twist and turns which just makes the world feel so realistic. I also enjoyed the spiritual element and how that impacts the characters interpretations of the situation. It’s rare that the apocalypse happens in YA literature with some philosophical musings.
Overall, this is an atmospheric and tense story which explores coming of age during the end of the known world in a completely different way to any story I’ve read before. Heartily recommended.
Recommended for fans of Veronica Roth and Jennifer Barnes. 9 out of 10