Welcome back to another exciting day of Something Wicked Returns! I have a fun post for you all today, but first I want to make sure you go visit, Beth, Maja and Candace they have great giveaways for you all as well:
Something Wicked Returns: Day #2 brings a frightful tale involving scary vampires and the Amish! I am talking about Laura Bickle's The Outside which is the spectacular sequel to The Hallowed Ones. If you are tired of all the glamorous, sparkly vampires try this series. The vampires are old world style and truly scary. I am delighted to have Laura back again today. She not only is a talented author but she is always an absolute pleasure to work with. If you have not yet met Laura let me introduce you to her:
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 six mostly-reformed feral cats. For more about Laura, please visit her website, blog or find her on Facebook,Twitter or Goodreads.
We are continuing with the theme of what you fear the most, and Laura is here to share with us a story about something that terrified her as a child: clown slippers.....here is Laura to tell you all about these horrific abominations:
Stuff that Scares Me: Clown Slippers
By Laura Bickle
The things that scare me are many and varied. At different points in my life, I’ve been afraid of the dark, of driving certain sections of freeway, of leaving my curling iron on and coming home to a burned-out shell of a house. I can convince myself that killer bees live in my garden and that the cat’s bowel habits are a harbinger of certain colon cancer.
If it can be feared, I can obsess about it.
But today, I’m gonna narrow that focus and to talk about clowns. Some people love them, but others feel that they cross into some weird part of the uncanny valley that summons up all kinds of shadow.
My fear of clowns began when I was three or four. This was around the time that pictures of John Wayne Gacy were showing up in full clown regalia on the news and parents were freaking out about checking Halloween candy for razor blades.
This totally pre-dated Stephen King’s IT, a sort of weird time decorated with plaid couches and rust-colored shag carpeting. It smelled like cherry flavored lip gloss, meatloaf, and Play-Doh.
My gramma (who has always been a sensitive woman) gave me a pair of clown slippers for my birthday. They were horrible. Plastic clown faces the size of my fists leered at me from the tops of the slippers. I have searched the internet high and low for a picture of these slippers. I reasoned that they must exist SOMEWHERE within the bowels of eBay, possibly in the same category as creepy dolls that are purported to house angry spirits. But it appears that humanity has righteously destroyed these insidious things and they no longer exist. Thank goodness.
This is the best approximation that I can offer:
So these abominations were parked beside my bed at night. They made me sob and scream. They were LOOKING at me, for Pete’s sake, with their soulless empty eyes!
My mom’s solution, once she figured this out, was to stuff the slippers under my bed where I couldn’t see them. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Nooooo. The clowns were under my bed now, in darkness, up to WHO KNOWS WHAT. I imagined that they were scuttling around, scraping, chuckling in the dark.
Eventually, somebody got rid of the darn things. They were truly terrible – an excellent way to traumatize a kid or grow a horror writer. Take your pick.
Thanks, Laura! I can't help but laugh at that picture. Who in their right mind would think a kid would want to wear clown slippers? I was never scared of clowns while growing up, but I do remember that creepy clown doll from Poltergeist. No wonder kids in the eighties were scared of clown dolls hiding under the bed. Then came Stephen King's IT, and needless to say, I can see why people have a fear of clowns. What about you all, are you afraid of clowns? Why? Laura was kind enough to bring a treat today, how about a chance to win a copy of her latest book The Outside? If you haven't checked out this series, you must do it! To enter to win please read the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter. Laura is generously making this giveaway open Internationally so show her some love! Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Outside (The Hallowed Ones #2) by Laura Bickle
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?
Kindle Edition, 325 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Katie sees the promising tendrils of light fingering over the horizon. She offers a quick prayer of thanks that she and her friends survived another night. Since Katie was banished from the only home she has ever known, she has been wandering the country with Alex and Ginger trying to find some signs of civilization and hope after the devastating vampire decimation. Unfortunately, they find mostly ruins, and at night they must fend off the frightening vampires. Katie begins to question her faith and wonders how God could let something like this happen. Is it truly the end of the world? Can Katie survive on the Outside?
What I Liked:
- Once again I was thoroughly impressed with Ms. Bickle's amazing story telling. This is a book that will grasp you from the first pages and plunge you into the terrifying aftermath of a vampire infestation. I loved that this is not only a tale of survival but one of self discovery. Katie after being banished from her Amish home is questioning everything she has been taught. Her faith falters and she begins to see that not everything can easily fall into the good or evil category. For instance is it murder to kill someone who asks you to in order to prevent them from becoming a vampire? Is it stealing when you take supplies in order to survive? Katie grapples with what she has been taught and what she must do to stay alive. With Alex at her side, she begins to learn about other religions and science. I loved watching her open her mind to new concepts and seeing her grow. Katie comes a long way from the sheltered Amish girl longing to escape on Rumspringa.
- I appreciated the amount of research that went into this book. Ms. Bickle in The Hallowed Ones brought us the world of the Amish with all of its teachings and strict practices. This time around, she incorporates other religions. There is an encounter with a Pentecostal preacher that was an eye opening experience. Word of advice, don't read that scene right before bed, I had dreams about snakes! Sprinkled throughout the book are other stories and religious ideas that involve the end of the world and so forth. I loved reading and learning the various stories and prophecies regarding end times from numerous religions. It was fascinating. Along with the religious ideas, there is also a dose of interesting science. I was very much impressed with the scientific ideas presented, and I could tell that Ms. Bickle did some detailed research.
- In this book, the long debate of science vs. religion is revisited. Katie, being Amish, believes that the vampire epidemic is due to evil forces. On her journey, she meets some people who believe that it is a man made plague and that there is a scientific explanation for the vampires. Who is right? That is left up to the reader. Perhaps it is a bit of both? Katie encounters the science and is forced to make a decision. Does she accept the scientific cure and try and take it back to her people or shun it as it isn't from God? Even if she makes it back to the village would they accept a scientific cure since it goes against their religious beliefs?
- I liked that the romance between Katie and Alex is based on a solid friendship and partnership. The two grow as they learn about each other and face the devastation around them. Alex teaches her about the modern world while she educates him on her faith in God. Some of my favorite scenes involved Alex trying to explain things in the real world such as adult book stores and The Jersey Shore. Their relationship is genuine and realistic and I loved watching them grow together.
- I was pleased at the final outcome, and I liked the way everything played out. I was most impressed with Katie's growth and transformation. She is an admirable young woman who I greatly admired by the end of the book. Her strength and courage is tremendous, and I loved how she has such a big heart when it comes to animals. I especially liked the way she opened up and accepted new ideas. I also liked that there was resolution with people from her past. Everything settles out and it appears this is the end of the series, but yet, there are still a few threads that could be explored in a sequel. I hope that there will be another book!
And The Not So Much:
- Even though I liked the way everything wrapped up, I wanted more. I wished the Epilogue was a little longer. I longed to know more about the vampire infestation, how widespread was it? What caused it? How was humanity fighting back? I guess, though, Ms. Bickle didn't spell it all out because she wanted to leave it up to the reader to decide. Were the vampires caused by the Evil that has plagued man from the beginning or was it from man wielding science in a deadly manner?
- I don't want to give too much away so I will be brief on this point. Katie awakens at the end to find some big changes. I was a bit disappointed that the vote and ousting of the leadership wasn't more detailed. I would liked to have witnessed the meeting and see why and how the people changed their minds regarding the current thinking and leadership and their stance toward Katie and Alex. It is always interesting to see change come to those who are deep rooted in their current belief systems.
The Outside is a terrific and satisfying conclusion. It is a book that gives us a young, sheltered Amish girl who undergoes a tremendous transformation as she explores the outside world and opens up to new ideas involving other religions and science. This is so much more than a scary vampire book, and I truly hope that you will take this incredible journey with Katie so you can further explore good vs. evil and God vs. science.
"Evil," Alex said. "Not just the contagion. When people are forced into a crucible like that, they start biting each other like rats. Power becomes an end unto itself. Evil is an inevitable sociological fact."
"I think that much of it was that we've been moving too far into the future. In the modern world, God exists as an abstract. Everyone wanted to believe in sunshine. But not the Darkness. Not in evil."
"In a strange way, it was hard to believe in an absolute good when I knew there was absolute evil in the world."
"Turning toward Darkness is a gradual process in all things."
"One of the things that I was beginning to learn was that kindness is often brutal. And that there was blood on all the survivors' hands."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
That is it for today! Do yourself a favor and get this series! A big thanks to Laura for stopping by and providing the giveaway! Stay current on all the giveaways by clicking the Wicked Button below.
I will see you back tomorrow with Kendare Blake's Antigoddess.