Dystopian, Fiction, Loved-it, NetGalley, Spiritual

What Happens To A Pacifist When He Has To Fight For His Family? When The English Fall by David Williams - not your traditional apocalyptic tale

I find myself struggling to start this review. Because the book was just so unbelievable, I find myself at a lack of words.

so many feelings right now

What would it be like to watch the end of the world as a bystander? As someone who has always thought that living that way was not wise, but had to hold onto that opinion as nobody really cared for it?

I should start with the fact that this is a dystopian book. However, it’s not your typical dystopian book. You will not find zombies or adventure here. Nor will you find fast-paced action and gore. You might find some terror, but it won’t be the scary kind. It will be the sad, regretful kind.

Jacob is Amish. He has worked the land as long as he’s been alive. He’s lived a simple life, and he’s happy living this way. Jacob’s daughter, Sadie, seems to have a sickness, most likely epilepsy, but it seems to be something more. Something more otherworldly, more like a gift. Sadie seems to know what will happen. And what will happen will bring an end to the world of the English – for Jacob’s community, the English means the outside world, the Western way of life. The scathing way of life. The kind that separates everyone from each other, and man from land. The kind of life Jacob does not understand.

And then one day it happens. Something of a natural disaster, magnetic or solar storm – it’s never explained, as we’re seeing it through Jacob’s eyes, and he doesn’t know these things. Whatever happens, cuts out all power sources of The English, and ends their way of life. Society begins of unravel, animosity does more harm than nature. Meanwhile, Jacob’s life hasn’t changed – the sun still shines, the rain still falls, so he tends to his crops and does his daily work as usual. But he can’t help wondering what will happen to the rest of the world. And he can’t help noticing the signs on danger all around him. The men that run around the fields with guns in the night. The army trucks that come to requisition food and other supplies. The rumors of slaughtered households. Jacob’s community seems to be the only people holding it together in a world that has changed irreparably overnight, and he’s at a loss about what to do. The Amish way is one of peace, of never hurting anyone. And so, Jacob and everyone in his community is faced with the choice – do they hide behind the Western man and pretend that it’s not the same that it wasn’t their hand that pulled the trigger? Or is the true way of peace about accepting the consequences, turning the other cheek and choosing the way of least violence?

pondering gif

It’s a truly heart-breaking tale of strength in the face of tragedy. Of faith, or just belief, or just being human the way humanity should be. It’s heart-wrenching and it’s utterly beautiful. This is a book you should read, if you enjoy musings on tough choices, morality and spirituality. I enjoyed this book unbelievably and I cried by the end. I must warn, it is not a fast-paced book, like I said. It’s not about action or movement. It’s about the geography of the human heart. If you enjoy books like that, you will greatly enjoy this one. And even though the voice is that of a Christian, especially an Amish Christian, you will not find it difficult to connect with Jacob’s feelings or beliefs. They’re so inherently human, that I believe we could all find them inside our hearts.

If this is not enough to convey how much I loved it, I’ll say one more thing. I do not really re-read books. But I can say for sure I will be re-reading this one, after I’ve had sufficient time to let the details go. I want to experience this book again. It was wonderful.

You support this blog by buying the book from Book Depository.

I thank David Williams, Algonquin Books and NetGalley for providing this book in exchange to an honest review.

Have you read any good apocalyptic stories about non-traditional communities?

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Evelina CaMarthaESarah CampbellDanielleNicholas LeDoux Recent comment authors

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Paul Liadis

Now this one really really seems up my alley, and I know I’ve said this a few times.

I live pretty close to the Amish, in fact I passed two horse and buggies on the road on July 4th visiting my cousin who lives in a pretty rural area in PA. And I had never thought of how the “Apocalypse” or breakdown of society would play out from their perspective. This idea alone immediately grabs me.

Margaret Kingsbury

So glad this is good! It’s next up on my Netgalley reads.


Sounds like a beautiful read, Evelina.


I actually love when a read has such an impact on us and we are left to deal with so many feelings . . . Happy you got to read this book, sounds good!


Thanks for the Goodreads rec on this! After reading your review I definitely want to read it. The Amish point of view would be fascinating, seems like, in a situation like this. And it sounds beautifully written too.

Nicholas LeDoux
Nicholas LeDoux

I use to, when going to Sunday School and read the Left Behind series and watch the Kirk Cameron Movies of the same, what it would be like with certain tribes, providences, solitude groups, islanders, and who ever else I can think of that could be left behind and have to go through a “dystopian” like happening. At the time though I never knew the word. I knew, to every beginning, there’s an ending, especially all that went from good and starts to degrade in life (or life choices). Anyway, this book looks like a book of list to ad… Read more »

Grab the Lapels

Hmmm….I also live right near thick Amish country, and I have to say, portraying the whole community as peaceful and completely not reliant on the “English community” doesn’t ring true. When I was teaching at a local college, many students I encountered had run away from the Amish community BECAUSE it’s not as peaceful as outsiders would like to believe. There are violent crimes just like anywhere else. Also, many Amish rely on “English” stores, vehicles, and even phones to get by. Many Amish communities now have electricity or at least batteries. The truly, truly unattached Amish sects are pretty… Read more »

David Williams

That’s an excellent question, and an important one. We “English” have a tendency to romanticize the Amish, in ways that don’t represent how complex and challenging their community life actually is. In the book, there’s significant interpenetration between Amish and English. The protagonist, for example, relies on an English friend to market his woodwork online, and help manage his business. He owns (as do many Amish) a generator, which is used to power a washing machine. They are far more integrated into our technological culture than we (and perhaps they) would like to admit. As you note, the Amish also… Read more »

Grab the Lapels

Those are great points, Mr. Williams, and you’ve given me a better idea of what is in your book. I feel like everywhere I go these days I see those Amish romance novels. Everyone from the gas station to my granny has them. I was worried this was another take on those kinds of stories. Granted, bad things happen in those novels, typically an unsanctioned pregnancy, but they’re still highly romanticized, from what I’ve been told. Thank you for clarifying and addressing my concerns!

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

omg where do you find such great books??? there are so many enticing things about this one! Watching the end of life as we know it from a an Amish person perspective has to be like the most interesting way to experience it! You would think they would be so equipped to survive in the world after were modern technology is not available anymore but at the same time their believes may get in the way of surviving in a world that’s back to “the survival of the fittest” [meanest in this case]


This sounds amazing. Loved your review.

David Williams

Evelina: Again, wow. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, gracious words, and I’m so glad you found the book meaningful and moving! Peace, David

Yvo @ It's All About Books

Excellent review! I hadn’t heard of this one before but it defintitely sounds like a great read! 🙂

Laura Thomas

I do love it when a book gives me a hangover from all of the feels it evokes. And I do enjoy dystopian stories. I like the idea of this one. And thanks for the awesome review.


Great review! You’ve convinced me to read this book!


I requested this book on Netgalley because of your review and I was just approved. I’m so excited and I just wanted to come here and say thank you! Without this review I never would have heard of this book.

Sarah Campbell

This sounds so deep and heart wrenching! I don’t know if I could deal ..great review Avalinah! You have conveyed your feelings and emotions perfectly xx


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I really loved this story too. I really like your review. My review style is not as effusive.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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