" The Witnesses" is the third novel in Amish novelist, Linda Byler's current series, "Lancaster Burning." Byler takes readers inside the home of the leader of the local Amish community, Davey Beiler, who finds himself at the center of mounting fear and controversy. Read more...
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" The Witnesses" is the third novel in Amish novelist, Linda Byler's current series, "Lancaster Burning." Byler takes readers inside the home of the leader of the local Amish community, Davey Beiler, who finds himself at the center of mounting fear and controversy. Fires have destroyed two more nearby Amish barns, and many of the farmers are ready to ask for police protection, an unheard of action. Beiler counsels against this, but then his beloved daughter, Sarah, is caught in the flames and severely injured. The Witnesses is a tautly told story, full of dark fears, difficult dilemmas, and deep love.
Who is responsible for setting the barn fires that continue to keep the Amish of eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on edge?
Who is responsible for seeing that they are stopped?
In this third and final novel in the "Lancaster Burning" series, author Linda Byler takes us inside the home of Davey Beiler, the leader of this Amish district. He clearly feels the heat in more ways than one.
Some of the younger members of his church are ready to testify against the man who has allegedly started at least several of the fires. Davey counsels patience and forgiveness.
But when Sarah, Davey's daughter, spots flames late one night in the widow Lydia's barn, Sarah refuses to let the fire win. She tears into the barn to rescue Lydia's Belgian and her newborn colt, intent on saving Lydia from a fresh heartache.
Sarah gets the horses out just in time, but not before a beam explodes overhead, knocking her to the ground as the barn rages in flames all around her.
In that moment, Sarah's life "turned darker than black." Gone were her lovely good looks, her life as a teacher, and perhaps the attention of the two young men who had been so drawn to her. Matthew, who until now could not leave her alone, had just returned to the community, but carrying his own deep loss. Would he look away? Would Lee, who was always steady and ever helpful, find Sarah's disfigurement more than even he could bear?
No one suffers more torment than Davey, who wonders if he was really responsible for Sarah's accident. If he had agreed to have police guard the Amish farms, as some wanted, Sarah would not have been hurt.
The Amish may be peace-loving, but they are not without their tensions. Author Byler, who is herself a member of the Amish, writes a tautly told story, full of dark fears, difficult dilemmas, and deep love.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-02-24
- Reviewer: Staff
Amish author Byler (Lizzie Searches for Love) delivers an insightful final novel to the Lancaster Burning series, her Amish-themed stories set in Lancaster County, Penn. Sarah Beiler has waited for Matthew Stolzfus to make her his wife, and now it might be only six months away. But Matthew sets conditions: Sarah must put her Amish life behind her, which would result in her being shunned. Meanwhile, someone is setting barn fires, terrorizing the community. Sarah attempting to rescue horses gets trapped in a burning barn, resulting in months of grueling pain and surgeries in the burn center. Sarah returns home with physical and emotional scars, yet a clearer vision of love, marriage, Matthew, and another suitor, Lee Glick. While the plot lacks somewhat in suspense, Byler makes up for with thematic interest: Amish rules of the church (Ordnung), values and customs (even recipes). During a meeting about the fires, Sarah's father, Davey Beiler, confronts community dissension regarding forgiveness versus vengeance, and the Amish way of nonresistance: "We don't resist. We don't believe in war. If someone takes your coat, give him your cloak." This richly layered representation of a peaceful, close-knit community provides an intriguing glimpse into Amish life and lore for new Byler readers, and a solid series conclusion for her fans. (Mar.)