'When the English Fall' shows how to handle the apocalypse with dignity
After a powerful solar storm destroys electrical devices and causes civilization to crumble, an Amish farming community in Pennsylvania helps by supplying food to a neighboring town. But as things deteriorate, the outside world encroaches on their isolated society.
When the English Fall (Algonquin Books, digital galley) is told through the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob. As the story unfolds, Jacob recounts how the community puts its faith in traditional beliefs as a means of survival. But as the outside world descends into chaos, the Amish have to make a decision that may be calamitous to the future of their community.
From first-time novelist David Williams, When the English Fall is written in a measured and thoughtful voice. Williams’ characters feel authentic, and the decisions they make are always grounded in the principles of their religion. There is a reserved dignity in the way the Jacob records actions of the Amish. The novel shows that doing the right thing – even when knowing the outcome could be disastrous – has rewards all its own.
The novel does bring to mind John Matherson’s frantic and anxiety-ridden One Second After. But Williams is a superior writer and When the English Fall a more solid addition to the post-apocalypse library.