Author: Laura Bickle
Narrator: Nora Hunter
Series: The Hallowed Ones, #1
Released: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Lenght: 9 hrs and 20 mins
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.
There’s truly little that can surprise me these days, but the quality of Laura Bickle’s prose, her superb characterization and her social sensitivity stunned me. The Hallowed Ones is a book I’d recommend for a number of reasons, including its big educational value.
I confess to knowing embarrassingly little about the Amish ways prior to reading this book. In addition to being exciting and emotional, The Hallowed Ones was a true eye-opener in so many ways. Thanks to Laura Bickle’s extreme social sensitivity and tact, I was able to learn a lot about the Amish way of life, and to clearly see the good sides as well as the bad. It would be infinitely easy to dismiss the Plain Folk, especially in light of our sudden technological development, but there is undoubtedly some value in their simple way of life. Bickle brings it all to light, without passing any kind of judgment, and allows her readers to make their own conclusions, one way or the other.
We see the community through the eyes of Katie, a young Amish girl with a strong stubborn streak. Katie is a good daughter and a hard worker, and yet she is different from other Amish girls. She tends to question everything and make up her own minds about things, which isn’t exactly encouraged by the Bishop and their Elders. When vampires attack the outside and come a bit too close to Katie’s home, she is forced to make some decisions that go against the wishes of her elders.
Bickle is a superb storyteller, with a talent for building tension to almost unbearable levels. There were times when I felt such a strong sense of foreboding that I was forced to stop listening for a while. That kind of emotional intensity is exactly what every voracious reader seeks and Laura Bickle provides it with seeming ease.
Nora Hunter turned voice characterization into an art form. She was able to pronounce and even sing prayers in Dutch and she added a subtle peculiarity to each character’s speech, making them all stand out without seemingly trying too hard. Hunter is, hands down, one of the best audio narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening and I’ll never hesitate to pick up a book narrated by her in the future.
As for the duology itself, I went through both books in mere days, no small feat considering it’s over 20 hours of audio. Unfortunately, the second wasn’t nearly as good as the first, but as a whole, this duology is well worth your time.