Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Book Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

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From Goodreads:

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? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning. 

My Review:

On the cusp of her Rumspringa, Amish teenager Katie is nearing the time of her life. She and her best friend Elijah plan for an epic adventure in the world of the "Outsiders", where after they will decide if they wish to return home and become baptized as fully fledge members of the Amish community. 
A helicopter crashes into the Amish community, and Katie sees the faintest glimpse of a sinister.....something among the wreckage. Despite the Amish's attempt to write the crash off as "God's will", several other horrific events occur and throw the community into uproar. Something terribly has happened in the Outside world, and it looks like the Amish are the only ones safe from the catastrophic event. The Elders of the Amish forbid anyone from going in, or coming out. They completely cut themselves off from the Outside world. 
Just a day later Katie finds a young man, Alex, injured just outside of their fence line. When the Elders leave him to the elements and "God's will", and forbid anyone to help him, Katie smuggles him into her old barn and hides him as he recovers. From there we are thrown into a world of horror, gore, and a slow building romance, all while racing against the clock as we watch humanity crumble and the community splinter. 

The Hallowed Ones was an incredible, spine-chilling read! I had no idea a story set in an Amish community could be so intense and frightening, but I couldn't read this book at night. It had my heart racing and my stomach churning at nearly every chapter!

I went into this book almost totally blind; all I knew was that my favorite author gave it a 5 star rating, and that was enough for me. I didn't at all expect what went down with this book, but holy hell, what a ride! I hardly know anything about the Amish, and their culture was fascinating. Shocking at times, but still so interesting. 

"Faith is one thing. Survival is another."

The Hallowed Ones has so many subplots that come together to form a beautiful, complex story. It was so much more than a horror book, more than a paranormal, more than a romance. It was religion clashing against morals. Head over heart. It was having to turn against everything you've ever known in order to do the right thing. It was about corruption of a very powerful position. There was just so much depth to this story, and Laura Bickle is a gifted author to be able to pull so much off and combine it all to form one obsessive and thought provoking read.

I wanted my life to matter.
And I wanted to choose how it mattered. 

Katie may just be one of my favorite heroines of this year. She was very smart, and such a genuinely good person. Her quiet determination and rebellion was a breath of fresh air. Despite being a very unique protagonist in a situation I've never read about, I could easily relate to her. She was a vivid and three dimensional character.
It was interesting to see how she struggled with her feelings of wrongdoing, even when she was doing exactly the right thing. Seeing the effects being raised in the Amish community had on her thought processes kept me riveted in the story, and I loved being in her head. The whirlwind of fear, panic, rebellion, determination and questioning going on inside her made a fantastic voice for the story. Her character arc was incredible to see!

Alex was an equally interesting character. It took quiet a while for me to get a good read on him, but once I did I truly enjoyed his character and the dynamic he shared with Katie. I really enjoyed their romance! It was both slow building and fast paced, but it worked beautifully with the story. 

The secondary characters were nearly as vivid as the protagonist herself, and it made for a gorgeously rich story. Getting to know each character and imaging how they'd affect Katie gave the story such an intense feeling of anxiety and fear. It felt like I was inside the story as an integral character, rather than a passive observer. I'm not kidding when I say I was having physical reactions of sweating palms, a churning stomach, and a pounding heart as I read this.

"It was nothing like you see in the movies, these creatures.  There's no seduction. No passionate luring of the victim to a dark side of velvet. This is just the stinking, rotting underbelly of evil without its makeup."

The story features vampires, but not in the way you may think. These creatures aren't sparkling emos or genteel apex predators. No, these are monsters of the worst variety. They are evil. There isn't a shred of good or humanity left in them. They are the anti-Christ, and they are appalling. 

I couldn't read this book at night, and several times I had to stop and set the book down just to take a breather. It's an unusual horror, because while it does have some scenes of "oh shit, we're all gonna die!!!", there's a constant thread of fear and panic throughout the book that made every horrifying encounter all the more heart pounding.

The Hallowed Ones is technically a Young Adult book, but it does not read like one. At all. It's intense, it's gory, it's downright scary, and it's incredibly violent. I'm honestly shocked it's in the YA section. 

The ending was a little bit flat in some places, and I have so many questions I need answered, but there is a sequel and I will be picking that up ASAP. I can't wait to get my hands on that book!

Overall, The Hallowed Ones is an fast paced tale of horror, love, and standing up for what's right. I highly recommend it, and I suggest you read with all the lights on. ;)


Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Young adult, horror, romance, paranormal
POV: 1st person, single perspective
Steam/sexual content: Mild, very surprising but non-graphic sex scene
Warnings: Shit yourself scary, and lots of very graphic gore and violence. Lots.
Series: The Hallowed Ones, #1
HEA: No clue!
Cliffhanger: Slight
My own copy

- The Bibliophile Babe


  1. I've been wanting to read this one for a while! I'm a huge vampire fan, and I love that this story returns them to their monstrous form instead of romanticizing them:) Fabulous review!

  2. I am so glad you liked this one. I really loved this series, you are right this is more a NA book, than YA, I think if it was published today, it would be labeled NA. You need to read the second one as well. I understand there is supposed to be a third, I need to go check on that.

  3. Oh wow, I'd never heard of this one. It sounds really interesting.

  4. I may have to give this a try but I'll take your advice and won't read it at night!

    I live in Amish country so I do know about Amish culture and I'm curious to see how it will be portrayed here.

    Thanks for your review!

  5. This was such a good duology and I love your thoughts on it. I hope you like the second just as much.

  6. I mostly ignored this one, because vampire Amish book, but you make it sound amazing.

  7. I was just stopping by because I love your blog name... I wanted to check you out. Cheers!