Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Plain Fear Forsaken

Plain Fear Forsaken by Leanna Ellis

Publication Date: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Horror/Romance
Pages: Paperback, 432pp
ISBN-13: 9781402255403

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Leanna Ellis on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from
Plain Fear Forsaken (Download the first chapter, left side under the book cover)

Book Trailer:



Pain chocked off anymore words. She grabbed the cold stone for support, splayed her hands across in front as a sob wrenched free from her chest.

Although she knows that the Amish way is to move on from grief, on to a new season, Hannah cannot move on from Jacob, who was taken too soon.

Jacob's brother Levi also cannot move on - his love for Hannah burns just as strong as ever. But he knows how much Hannah loved his brother, and the event that took Jacob from them...


So when a mysterious stranger comes to their community, he too carries a secret: one that will force Hannah to choose between light and dark, between the one she wants to love and the new yearning she fears to embrace.


In many ways
Plain Fear Forsaken is a departure for author Leanna Ellis, known for her humorous Christian Fiction books. This haunting novel draws from two very unlikely genres, Christian or Inspirational fiction and Paranormal fiction. Mixing both the religious values of the Amish and the bloodlust of the Vampire myth. This is a complex book that explores the nature of choosing one's own fate, and takes the good vs. evil battle to a entirely fresh and different place. Ellis has created a book that will defy labels and bridge the gap between two very different types of readers.

Hannah's world changed when Jacob died. He was the love of her life, even saving her from a near drowning when she was only a young girl. But he's been dead for two years and it's the Amish way to move on from grief. Her heart still grieves for Jacob, but the love of his brother Levi is strong and true. When Akiva, a stranger enters their plain community, Hannah feels drawn to him. She feels as if she knows him somehow, he's tempting and alluring and brings out a side of her she didn't know existed. But, Akiva isn't what he seems. Levi knows that he must protect Hannah from the evil that Akiva represents, even if it means destroying his own brother... But ultimately the choice is Hannah's.

This is definitely a book of contrasts, that will probably run the gambit on reactions. There will be some who will be completely turned off by the idea that a Christian Fiction writer would not only attempt but publish a mainstream book featuring vampires. There will also be those paranormal readers who probably won't give it a second look for the very same reasons. But then you have another group of readers who are very open minded, who embrace not only Christian beliefs, but also enjoy a good paranormal read... I happen to be one of those!

I think that if you leave your preconceptions of what a novel from Leanna Ellis should be like at the door, what you think a novel involving the Amish should be about in the parking lot or on the train, and embrace the idea that these two genres can mix, you'll love it. But if you are all hung up on the idea that this is meant to be a Christian Fiction title or that it's meant to be a completely horror or paranormal read, you will stall out and not like it at all. So I expect there will be lot of completely opposite reactions to this book and that's expected.

Ellis has created an Amish world where there is a stark difference between light and darkness. The Amish are a plain people, with very specific beliefs and I think Ellis was able to share those ideas and religious leanings in a very compelling way. I don't think she is trying to offend or take away from what these people believe, she is just using them to illustrate the extreme differences between good and evil. If vampires are considered evil, the polar opposite of that would a people much like the Amish and I sincerely believe that's what she was trying to do. Contrast the two very different worlds.

I liked the fact that Ellis doesn't take the easy way out with her vampires. They aren't cuddly, they aren't trying to be something they aren't. They are evil. When they attack, they kill. They don't mince words or try to pretend they want to be something different. Akiva is definitely not a vampire like Edward Cullen. He has a viciousness about him that is palpable in this book. The entire book has an atmosphere about it that is both eerie and haunting. From the prose and poems to the scripture references and the cover of the book, there is a shadowy, sensual kind of impression that the reader will feel throughout, that kind of made the hair on my arms stand up. Chilling!

All three main characters are strong and very complex in my opinion. Levi comes across as a very loving and strong man. He loves Hannah and he is willing to do whatever he can to keep her from loosing her soul, even if it means going against someone he once called his brother. Akiva is very centered. He knows what he wants and he intends to use every resource within him to get it, including reminding Hannah of the man he once was and what they shared. Hannah is so conflicted. Her love for Jacob was complete and deep and giving that up is hard to even think about. But with Levi she will be continuing in a faith that she grew up with, that she truly believes and there is the fact that she feels strongly for him as well. It's a great love triangle and readers will not be able to figure out what she will choose until the very end. This isn't a cut and dried story, it's certainly not predictable.

Ellis has definitely stepped out of her comfort zone with this book, it's going to cause a stir and I'm certain all of the buzz won't be good, but this is an excellent novel. Well written, the premise is interesting, the Amish are very good and the vampires are very bad. And somehow it really works! I don't think she meant it to be inspirational fiction and probably didn't mean for it be vampire or paranormal fiction either. It's in a group by itself and I'm looking forward to reading more. There is a bit of language, and some very sensual scenes that I think are necessary to the overall story. This book has a fast pace, it's unpredictable and just a delightful read.

I recommend this one to open minded Christian fiction enthusiasts, those who want to read an Amish fiction selection that is totally different from most of what's out there and to paranormal readers who are just looking for a really good vampire story that's fresh and original. I really enjoyed it and I think you will too!

Plain Fear Forsaken is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! (I've read some really good books the last few weeks!... lots of 5's)

Leanna Ellis is the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award and Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award. She has written numerous books in the romance genre as well as the inspirational market. With her husband, two children, and wide assortment of pets, she makes her home in Texas.

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