THE HALLOWED ONES
By: Laura Bickle
Reading Level: Ages 12 and Up
Paperback: 320 Pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Graphia
Release Date: September 25, 2012
If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?
In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror...
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenag- ers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing.
Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a de- cree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the bounda- ry of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?
Advance Praise for THE HALLOWED ONES
"This is a book to make you fear the shadows--a horrifying and gruesome tale of faith, and things that blink red eyes in the night. I began reading in the daylight, and read on into the late hours, leaning close, biting my
lip. I could not look away; I was ob- sessed. Katie is an unbreakable soul."
--Lauren DeStefano, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy
The "What If" World
By: Laura Bickle
One of the things that I love most about writing fantasy is asking the “what if” questions and building worlds around the answers.
When I was drafting THE HALLOWED ONES, I was envisioning a large-scale, violent plague that devastates about two-thirds of the world. I had never written a post-apocalyptic or dystopian book before, and I was thinking about who might survive such a disaster. Oftentimes, the emphasis is on the individuals who manage to survive a disaster, through personal qualities of self-reliance, creativity, and sheer grit.
But I was also thinking about groups of people who might survive, wondering if there were enclaves of people who could weather the collapse of our modern systems of technology and order. It occurred to me that the Amish would be uniquely equipped to survive.
The Amish are incredibly self-sufficient. They’re not dependent upon things we take for granted in our world, things like electricity and cars. When the Amish came to the US in the early 18th century, they effectively chose to stop the clock on technology. They remain physically and socially separate from the modern world, choosing not to use technology that would connect them to outside influences, such as power and telephone lines. Modern Americans (who the “Plain” Amish would call “English”) are very dependent upon others for food, power, and basics of survival. The Amish have inherited a tradition of autonomy, running their own farms, raising their own animals, and cultivating their own food. They even preserve their own Pennsylvania Dutch language, and many educate their children in Amish-run schools.
This kind of isolation and command of natural resources would provide a great advantage in a post-apocalyptic world. I thought that my survivors would have a better chance to fight back against the plague in an Amish environment, where disruptions in mail, power, gasoline supply, law enforcement, and even fire protection would have minimal impact. It was an interesting thought-experiment for me, and as I continued to research the Plain way of life, I became convinced that the strongest position to be in during a time of crisis would be theirs, a path of independence.
That’s not to say that there would be no obstacles. The Plain people that I created for THE HALLOWED ONES suffer from lack of information about what’s happening in the outside world as the crisis develops. The protagonist, Katie, a young Amish woman, watches as a helicopter plummets from the sky into the fields near her home. There are no survivors to tell her what happened. She watches as cars speed down the highway and vanish, the trickle of traffic draining away to nothing at all. There are no planes in the sky and no messages. No lights in the countryside from English towns, only rumors of unrest. Fearing a contagion, the Elders of her Amish community declare that no one is permitted inside, and no one may leave.
The isolation, then, becomes both a great power and a weakness. The Plain people in Katie’s community can continue life much as before…but they suffer from the fear that something terrible has happened to the world, something that cannot be confirmed or denied unless they open the gate and venture outside.
About The Author
Laura Bickle's professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. For more about Laura, please visit her website at: www.laurabickle.com.