cover image When the English Fall

When the English Fall

David Williams. Algonquin, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61620-522-5

Williams’s satisfying postapocalyptic novel shows the complex interlacing of Amish and “English” (non-Amish) life. Jacob, an Amish father, lives in a small Pennsylvania district with his wife and two teen children. His daughter, Sadie, has preternatural abilities to foresee the future, a curious note in an otherwise very realistic story. In a journal, Jacob recounts the immediate effects of a massive solar storm that wipes out all electronics. Over two and a half months, the community is called to provide for the cities that were less prepared for the loss of modern life, and increasingly desperate outsiders begin to threaten them, driven to violence by need. This new world tests the Amish injunction to peacefully sacrifice. The diary format means the scientific details of the storm’s effects are vague and the most horrifying events are only rumored; this increases tension and keeps the narrative from becoming as dehumanizing or shockingly violent as other tales of the end of the world. The unique spin draws readers into an alarmingly plausible story of contemporary civilization’s demise. Agent: Kathleen Davis Niendorff, Kathleen Davis Niendorff Literary. (July)