Last year I read an absolutely hi-lar-i-ous satire about creating a new genre of Christian Amish Vampire Fiction (laughable, isn't it?). So this summer, when I found out that somebody actually did it? Well, I couldn't resist latching on to the new novel by Leanna Ellis to find out -- and pardon the Transylvanian, please -- if it sucked.
Well, mark me down surprised, Amos. Cuz she done it good, jah?
(from the back cover)
Hannah cannot move on. She pines for Jacob, the boy who saved her life when she drowned, bringing her back from the brink of death by breathing life into her. But Jacob is gone now, buried.
Levi's love for Hannah burns just as strong. But he knows how much Hannah loved his brother Jacob. He also knows the troubling event that took Jacob out of their lives. And he lives with that lie every day.
So when a stranger named Akiva comes to their community, he carries with him two secrets that will change their lives forever: he is in fact Jacob, whom Hannah had lost. And he is now a vampire.
When passions stir and secrets are revealed, Hannah must choose between light and dark, between the one she has always loved and the new possibility of love. But it's more than a choice of passion; it's a decision that will determine the fate of her soul.
HOW IT HIT ME:
Like tripping over a buggy wheel in the moonlight, and landing in comforting arms -- next to an open grave.
In other words, this novel was not about how awesome it is "to be Amish and in love", nor did it glamorize/romanticize the Amish lifestyle like so many of those Amish books I detest. (I didn't say "all". No need to send me nasty mail.) This was a dark, well-crafted story about complex relationships, the dangers of tamping down questions of legalism, the long-lasting effects of grief, the costs of deception, the risks of awakening passion too soon, the definition of true love, and... the transformation of a rebellious Amish kid into a vampire.
WHAT MADE ME SQUIRM
Um, well, it's an Amish book, duh. And, as a rule, I don't read Amish. (and, as a 2nd rule, I am a habitual rule-breaker.)
TO READ, OR NOT TO READ; THAT IS THE QUESTION:
A well-written, engaging novel, Forsaken adds a fresh bite of originality and quality plot craft into the over-weaning and somewhat oxymoronic market we know as "Christian Amish Fiction." Leanna Ellis has written a sensual, dark tale that will shock many diehard fans of this subgenre and, at the same time, draw skeptics (like me) toward it through her passionate and sensory prose.
Plain Fear: Forsaken is creepy and edgy, and Amish and sexy. (sexy? Yep, sexy. Don't believe me? Well, read it for yourself.)
AND FINALLY, IN THE WORDS OF INIGO MONTOYA:
"No, there is too much. Let me sum up."
I'm not going to lie and tell you that I'm rushing to fill my Amazon cart with a buggy-full of bonnet books, but this novel was a unique, enthralling read. And, although I'm a little shocked to admit it, I read it, I liked it, and (gasp!) I highly recommend it.