Amish, May I Sleep With Danger?

Nov 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Columns, Eileen: This is Your Brain On..., Prose
“Levi? What happened? Is the barn ablaze?”
Excerpt from Plain Fear: Forsaken: A Novel

Americans are intrigued by insular cultures. I have a staunch belief that it’s not because they “look different” or act in ways our general population doesn’t act, but because these cultures ignore us and we don’t know why. “HELLO, AMISH? IT’S AMERICA. WHY AREN’T YOU RETURNING MY PHONE CALLS? WHY DON’T YOU LIKE MY MOVIES ABOUT EXPLOSIONS AND MY RESTAURANTS WITH ICE CREAM BACON BURGERS? ANSWER THE DOOR!!”

So we go and stare. We want Bengal tigers at the zoo and Egyptian artifacts at the museum to know that we are there, and we are Americans, better than you and staring at you and damn it, recognize that! (What we won’t go stare at: Native American Reservations. We don’t want to be reminded about that little gaffe.)

One of our famous stare past-times is the Amish. The Amish fascinate and titillate a majority of people. It’s why Witness was such a hit in the 80s and Weird Al’s Amish Paradise made us all laugh in the 90s. Attempts on cashing in on other groups, like those in Hasidic Judaism, did not bear as delicious fruit (hello, A Stranger Among Us), and I have yet to see a sexy film or song dedicated to the Quakers.

Overdue for a book deal.

Yup, the Amish have that somethin’ somethin’. Which is why it should come as no surprise that the novel Plain Fear: Forsaken takes one part Amish, and adds another part VAMPYRE. Really, there have been murmurings of the idea, farcical or not, for quite awhile. The Twilight series is practically one long summary of Mormon ideals, so why not continue using blood-thirsty monsters as a platform for religious inspiration and morals? Frankly, it’s no surprise someone has finally taken a bite into it (zing!).

This book is not about Amish sex ghosts. Sorry.

 

So. Forsaken. It’s over four-hundred pages long. What could possibly take up over four-hundred pages in a vampire-Amish-inspirational-paranormal romance novel? Quotes. Quotes from Shakespeare, Wordsworth and of course, The Bible.

We need to get this out of the way: The Bible is never sexy. Even though it is full of sex, it is not sexy. It’s like you grandmother Irene dancing around in her underwear. Sure, she has experience, but it’s not sexy.

Therefore, Forsaken leans much more on the inspirational side, and less on the butter-churn groping romance side. There’s some chaste kissing, and at one point, someone’s rib gets felt up (that’s like–half base?), but it’s as sexless as Liza Minnelli and David Gest’s wedding night.

Let’s get to the plot. The novel opens with a prologue, and the character Jacob, blah blah blahing about his trip to New Orleans. As a young Amish person, he is taking his rumschpringes (also known as Time Out). But he’s had to take a break from swilling yards of alcohol and selling his virginity for Mardi Gras beads to run away from a vampire! He hopes he lives so he can return to his true love, Hannah. He is in the midst of thinking about how great and perfect she is, when he finds a drunk homeless man and wonders if he should rescue him from the vampire:

“Could this old drunk be a sacrificial lamb? His salvation? Could he serve as a decoy? The decision came easily. Too easily. Jacob took one step away. Then another. Rationalizations paved his escape. Who would miss this drunk? No one would blame Jacob for abandoning him, leaving him in the path of those who were coming.” (3)

Jacob sounds like a great guy!

Two years later, it turns out Jacob is dead. Or missing? Probably dead. Boo. Hannah is really sad about it, not knowing that Jacob is a self-involved, homeless man abandoning douche. (Okay, fine, he does save the homeless guy. After he thinks about how disappointed his father would be in him. Nothing like a potential hero who does good deeds so other people don’t get pissed off and take away his horse buggy.)

Hannah works part-time at a bakery, which makes sense because she smells like one, “he couldn’t get enough of her. Of her kiss, her sweet, apple-turnover scent…” (323).

Other than being a walking pastry, Hannah is standard, run of the mill, pure and virginal boring heroine who does nothing but grieve over her dead Amish fiancee, yearn over her unrequited secret desire for his brother, and agonize over the vampire lurking in the fog behind the barn. If Hannah were a tree, she’d be a pine (zing!)

The vampire in question is Akiva. Akiva wears a black leather jacket and kills racist homophobics. This means he is a just killer, and we should sort of like him, because that guy deserved it! Why, I love driving through KKK meetings in a monster truck, smashing everyone. Yup, murder is totally justified if you’re killing someone because of their beliefs.

Her dead fiancee’s brother is Levi. He has a strong jaw and secretly loves Hannah and one time saved her from drowning in some creek but her dead fiancee took all the credit. Wow, Jacob is really something. Too bad he’s dead. (Or missing?)

But wait! He’s not dead, missing, or even alive! He’s the vampire Akiva. And he wants Hannah to join him in the leather-jacket-wearing-undead life. At first she’s totally into it because he took her to a Vivaldi concert. But everyone is staring at them and she feels uncomfortable because people are always looking at her because she’s Amish. Akiva reveals he bought all the rows around them so she could enjoy the music. He is so obsessed with Hannah and knows her inner most thoughts and feelings but forgot that the one thing she hates the most is being stared at by strangers? Oops! Think he’ll still get to half base?

You’re probably wondering: how did Hannah not know Akiva was Jacob this whole time? Well she was “coated with a haze,” (326) which means Akiva probably mesmerized her, or she was high. And if she works in a bakery, she is in for some fun times!

Oops, I forgot. There’s a detective. Roc Girouard. Roc is from New Orleans, so he has no idea what an Amish person is. All he knows is there is a dead girl’s body with a bonnet in his district, so she must be Amish (or her sexy nun costume went horribly awry). Also, Roc’s wife was killed by a vampire maybe? And this maybe Amish murder is similar? And someone else died? And some animals? So there’s a vampire out there killing Amish people and cop wives and animals?

“My wife reads them Amish romances,” explains one of Roc’s cop buddies  “She tells me all about them folks.” (19). Roc’s detective co-worker offers to loan Roc his wife’s books so he can learn more about the Amish. Instead of going to the library. Or looking it up on the internet.

Detective research.

“The Amish,” Brody cut him off, “don’t they live up in Pennsylvania?”
“Nah…My wife…she says they live all over. Ran out of land in Lancaster County seems. And they gots big ol’ honkin’ families. So they buy up land in other places.” (19)

LATER, IN LANCASTER COUNTY: Roc insinuates himself into Amish society. Translation: he hangs out with a bunch of Amish teens at the drive-in movie theater. If there is anything less suspicious than an Englisher mugging around your standoffish society, it’s that.

He then meets a mysterious, seductive woman who has pale skin, dark hair, and wears her sunglasses at night.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2LTL8KgKv8&ob=av3e

They exchange the following dialogue:

“You are one determined man.”
“I can be.”
“I like that in a man.”

Then the mystery woman licks her lips and trails her finger down between her boobs. This scene is the definition of subtle.

“She was stunning, striking, with her dark hair and skin that looked as silky as satin sheets and instantly brought to mind images of lingerie.” Roc’s favorite, in fact, were the Hello Kitty ones, bright pink and fluffy, so very soft against his hardened cop skin. When he slipped them on, he felt so pretty…

Turns out this very sexy lady, Camille, is a vampire! I’m shocked. She also turned Jacob into a vampire! I actually never discovered why she was after the Amish (and random cop wives), but maybe that’s because Camille mesmerized me. Or I’m stoned.

So! Levi, Roc and Hannah team up to destroy the vampires! Roc tells Hannah a very sad story about Hurricane Katrina and his wife’s death. He admits that after all the horrors he had seen, he had lost the will to live. Hannah replies “What does this have to do with Jacob? With Snowflake?”

Thanks, Hannah, for proving that no matter how pious you are, you can still be an asshole.

RIP Snowflake

Hannah sobs over Jacob/Akiva and a dead farm animal, then ends up between a bitter battle between Camille and Jacob/Akiva. Should they kill her or turn her? Kill her! Sadly, my vote doesn’t count and Jacob/Akiva decides to turn her.

But then Levi and Roc show up and kill both the vampires! See you guys, no matter what culture we live in, men are always here to save defenseless women sobbing over undead boyfriends and very dead ponies.

And that’s it! Roc returns to New Orleans, Hannah and Levi decide to wed, and everyone returns to their original places in the world, knowing that love always triumphs (412) and maybe something about how we should accept people for their differences? Oh, but we killed those people because they were murderers. Anyways, love always triumphs, you guys!

———-

Eileen would stake an amish vampire for a ice cream bacon burger right now. But hold the bacon. And the burger.

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