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In 1738 Jakob Hochstetler and his family arrived in America, seeking sanctuary from religious persecution in Europe and the freedom to live and worship according to their Anabaptist beliefs. Along with other members of their church, they settled in the Northkill Amish Mennonite community on the Pennsylvania frontier between civilization and wilderness and built a home near Northkill Creek.

For eighteen years the community lived at peace. Then, with the French and Indian War raging, the Hochstetlers’ way of life was brutally shattered. Early on the morning of September 20, 1757, their home was attacked by a party of Delaware and Shawnee warriors allied with the French. Facing certain death with his wife and children, Jakob made a wrenching choice that tore apart his family and changed all of their lives forever.

Northkill is closely based on an inspiring true story well-known among the Amish and Mennonites. It has been documented in many publications and in contemporary accounts preserved in the Pennsylvania State Archives and in private collections.

328 pages, Paperback

First published February 5, 2014

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About the author

Bob Hostetler

51 books90 followers
Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His books, which include the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and the novel, The Bone Box, have sold over 3 million copies. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award. He is the founding pastor of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. He and his wife Robin have two grown children, Aubrey and Aaron, who have given them four beautiful grandchildren.

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5 stars
74 (52%)
4 stars
43 (30%)
3 stars
18 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Clif Hostetler.
1,064 reviews697 followers
September 24, 2014
I have waited all my life for a good historical novel about my Hostetler ancestors. Then two good books were published this year by two different authors. One is this book, Northkill, and the other book is titled Jacob's Choice by Ervin R. Stutzman. Link to my review.

Both novels are based on the true story of my Hostetler ancestors who emigrated from Alsace in 1738 and settled on a farm at the eastern edge of the then settled part of the colonial Province of Pennsylvania (today about a mile west of the present day village of Shartlesville, in Upper Bern Township, Berks Co., Pa). The family were Amish. By the time of this story in 1757 two of the oldest of his six children--a son and a daughter--were married and living on neighboring farms with their own families. The family remaining at home at this time consisted of his wife, three sons, and one daughter.

Unfortunately, their community was located at the foot of the wooded Blue Mountain range which was the edge of Indian territory. Thus when the French and Indian War began in 1754 their community was vulnerable to attack. Their homestead was attacked and the mother and daughter were killed and the father and two sons were taken captive. These books fill out the historical facts as only historical fiction novels can do and explains the story of their time in captivity.

This book is the first of a two volume set (if I understand correctly). This book ends with the father and sons having just crossed the mountains into the heart of Indian country and they are about to be split up by the end of the book. Jacob's escape the following year will be covered in the next volume. The return of the sons may be covered in still other volumes.

This book's story is narrated by an omniscient narrator who tells the inner thoughts of feelings of various characters. Thus this book is able to develop multiple characters which is in contrast to the Jacob's Choice book which focused solely on Jacob.
Profile Image for Staci.
1,660 reviews507 followers
November 18, 2015
Northkill is based upon the true story of Jakob Hochstetler who immigrated from Europe to America in 1738 to escape religious persecution. The author shares at the beginning of the novel a short summary of what happens to Jakob and his family. I was rather irritated about this "spilling of the beans" before the novel even began, however, I have to admit knowing what was going to happen added to the tension. I kept wondering if the current scene is when the climax was going to occur.

I found a few formatting and grammar errors, however, they were not enough to be distracting.

Overall, I found this novel to be fascinating. The imagery about the terrain, clothing, customs and other aspects of Mennonite life in the 18th Century were so vivid. The struggle with their faith was heart breaking and incredibly easy to understand. Their will to remain non-violent was both frustrating and commendable.

I highly recommend this novel to readers that enjoy historicals. I anxiously await the conclusion to the series which is scheduled to release in 2016.
Profile Image for Tina Rice.
722 reviews
April 4, 2017
Northkill, book 1 Northkill Amish*****
by Bob Hostetler and J.M. Hochstetler

In the year 1738 Jacob Hochstetler and his family left Europe and its persecution and sailed to America, in hopes to live in freedom and worship according to their Anabaptist beliefs. They settled in Northkill, Pennsylvania, a wilderness frontier, joining other members of their church in the Northkill Amish Mennonite community. After 18 years of peace, the French and Indian War rages all around them shattering their peace and endangering their lives.

This is a remarkable story of the authors' ancestors. I was captured from the first page to the last. The Northkill area was described in such a way I could envision it as I read the story. It helped to have the map included in the book, which I referred to during Jacob and his children's ordeal. According to their beliefs of nonresistance, Jacob did not fight the indians when they appeared at their home. The struggle with remaining nonresistant was clearly shown as Jacob and his family were faced with a decision whether to fight or trust God for their deliverance. What followed was heartbreaking, tearing families apart. Northkill is full of heart-pounding suspense and drama that will keep you captivated to the end. The story has remained with me even after reading it and is on my favorite list for 2015. I impatiently await the second book coming out next year. Fantastic story!

~~ I won a copy of this book from the authors on Colonial Quill and was not required to leave a review~~
Profile Image for Kate.
1,474 reviews43 followers
January 8, 2018
I think this is truly the first suspenseful Amish novel I've read. And the fact that it's based on a true historical account of what happened to the authors' ancestors only makes it more chilling. While I knew that not all of the family makes it out of the attack alive, what actually played out was even more heartbreaking than I anticipated, though I must say the violence was handled with as much grace as was possible given what happened.
Note: there is violence in this story, and it does not end with a HEA.
Profile Image for Jocelyn Green.
Author 28 books1,189 followers
August 19, 2014
A masterpiece. Northkill stole my breath and my heart. With expert skill, the authors blend nail-biting suspense, blood-pumping drama and heartbreaking history into a tale that will both haunt and inspire. A book this rich and multi-dimensional deserves to be read more than once. The second book in the series can’t come quickly enough for me!
Profile Image for Lynda.
1,027 reviews17 followers
August 10, 2021
What a story!!!

I'm the genealogist in my family so this story based on research of a family resonates with me. On top of that, I can't believe I've had this book for several years and am just now reading it.

Heavily researched, the story absolutely pulls you in and doesn't let go. The family are first Amish immigrants to America and the setting is mid 1700s in Pennsylvania. The Indians, several different tribes, are being encouraged by the French to attack the whites. Jakob refuses to use weapons to defend himself or his family. Nor will he let his sons use them.

Eventually an attack is brought to their doorstep. Members of the family killed; members taken hostage.

Normally when a book doesn't end but NEEDS a following book -- well, it makes me aggravated. But not this one. I felt the passages about how the remaining family feels and acts as well as the difficult trek Jakob and his two surviving sons make needed the depth the writers gave. Knowing, also that this portion of the book was based on a real family and their descendants research made it important not to be skipped over lightly.

Book 2 has been purchased, the price was extremely low, and will be eagerly read next.
Profile Image for Marilyn.
985 reviews
September 15, 2018
Northkill is a book that will remain with you after reading with the historical events that transpired with the authors’ ancestors during 1752. They were strong in their faith and trusted God to protect them against the Indians when settling in America. The horrendous tragic that took lives of family members and others captured and carried away by the Indians. Their faith kept them going even though they wondered how God would allow them to suffer when following His teachings. This book is one that you will want to read intervals because of the heart wrenching happenings that brought tears and know this was America’s history then. I received a complimentary copy of this book as a winner from a blog giveaway. I was not required to write a review but have shared my own thoughts. I will read book The Return soon to gain insight into what happened after the French and Indian War with the Hostetlers’ captives.
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,379 reviews71 followers
April 10, 2020
In 1757 the Hochstetler family was living in Pennsylvania when the Indians attacked their farm. Jacob, and two of his sons, Joseph and Christian, are captured by the Delaware and Shawnee warriors while the rest of the family is killed. This books depicts their journey through the wilderness and their struggles to accept Jesus's teachings of nonresistance. This true story is based on the authors ancestors experiences. I am looking forward to reading the sequel to this book.
802 reviews19 followers
July 30, 2014
“Northkill” is based on the life of the Hochstetler family. Jakob Hochstetler and his family left Europe in the late 1730’s, searching for a place where they could practice their religion in peace. They, and others like them, found that place in a small settlement called Northkill located in Pennsylvania. For many years those from the settlement lived in peace with their Indian neighbors. But with the advent of the French and Indian Wars, attacks came. Neighbors were burned out and many of the peaceful souls in the Mennonite community were killed. Hochstetler lost his wife, an infant daughter, and a son in one such attack, while he and two remaining sons were taken prisoner. The heard-wrenching story of this family is told by descendents of the family. The book is both a history lesson from a little talked-about time in American history, as well as the story of the peace-loving Jakob Hochstetler family and their struggles to follow their beliefs while living in the savage lands of the new world.
Profile Image for Larry Hostetler.
395 reviews1 follower
September 26, 2016
Another book by my brother, I read this on my iPhone in just a few days.

Because I've known the basics of the story and visited the site of the main incident (with my son Joe) it was with interest I began the book. But it was the strength of the writing and content that kept me reading. It's an interesting story to begin with, but as Bob partnered with historian J.M. Hochstetler on this I was as interested in the historical milieu (the French and Indian wars of the mid-18th century and life on the Amish "frontier" of eastern Pennsylvania) as in the story itself.

Replete with information for those unfamiliar with the Amish lifestyle and faith and life among the Native Americans of that area the education didn't take away from the story. It was DEFINITELY a good read!

And the next volume is due out new spring, so we get to find out what happens later.
Profile Image for Regina.
389 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2016
A difficult and heartbreaking story

I read this when it first came out and I just reread it. It was just as heart-wrenching as it is now. The depth of this book is one you will be so engrossed in, you will feel like your immersed in the story. You'll feel like you're there with the family from the first page through the massacre through their captivity and to the very last page. You'll feel the grief of those who had to witness the aftermath and the pain of losing family. You'll cry rivets of tears. May this story touch you as much as has me. Well worth reading over and over again!
Profile Image for Michael McClure.
83 reviews
June 21, 2018
Riveting! Could hardly put it down. This was the unusual fiction experience I've ever had knowing that, for at least one character, the outcome had to be positive - if it wasn't then I wouldn't be reading the book at all. This was clearly a painstakingly well researched book that brought my ancestors to life. I could hear their voices, see and smell their surroundings, and ache for them as they suffered so severely. Even though I know at least part of the outcome I am still anxious to read book two.
Profile Image for Norma.
Author 2 books232 followers
May 31, 2017
Northkill a Must-Read for historical fiction lovers!

Whether or not family history is one of your passions, Northkill is an amazing historical tale of fiction mixed with known historical facts from the lives of the author's ancestors. It is by far one of the best books of this type that I have read. It is impossible to put it down from page one to the end, and it ended all too soon. I can't wait for the continuation of the Hochstetler family saga!
Profile Image for J.M. Hochstetler.
Author 11 books73 followers
August 26, 2014
This is book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series by Bob Hostetler and me, closely based on the inspiriting story of our Hochstetler ancestors, well known in the Amish and Mennonite community. Book 2, The Return, is scheduled for release in 2016.
287 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2022
What a great book! Jacob sure stuck to his beliefs and faith in God for his family's safety! It was a great encouragement to me.
Profile Image for Sean Elliot Russell.
Author 7 books35 followers
February 12, 2020
Bob Hostetler's "Northkill" is a well-written, thrilling novel set in early Colonial America focused on Jakob Hochstetler and his family struggling to establish their homestead in virgin American frontiers.

Set during the troubling French-Indian War, the novel is based on the author's family history with gaps filled by the author's imagination and educated guesses. The characters are three-dimensional, intriguing, and their harrowing ordeal is vividly told. One particular scene unfolds over several chapters and was unforgettable!

Themes of pacifism versus a nation at war, family, and faith are all spotlighted. The novel continues in "The Return" which I am now reading. Highly recommended!

-Sean Elliot Russell

Profile Image for Carol R Nicolet Loewen.
31 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2020
Hostetler has written a gripping fictional account based on his ancestors' trials during the French and Indian War. After living peacefully with the neighboring Delaware Indians for 18 years, Jakob Hochstetler's family is attacked by tribes of Indians incited by the French. Three are murdered; father and two sons are taken hostage, wondering whether each moment may be their last if they can't keep up on the trek to ... wherever the war party is taking them.

There are incidents where Jakob's ingenuity saves them from more torture, and where he gives thanks to God for their protection.

This is a story that is hard to read in parts, but that had me turning the pages to learn whether Jakob and his sons would survive and possibly return to their home at some point.
Profile Image for Kelly.
40 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2017
Such horrors these original Pennsylvania Amish went through and yet kept their faith and their belief not to exact revenge. This is a heart wrenching story of family, community, strength of character, atrocious loss and centered in it all is God. The authors did not allow the reader to linger on the loss and grieve for Anna and the children, just as Jakob was not. The reader was dragged away with Jakob, Joseph and Christian wondering the same “why would God allow this”. The family left behind as well as those dragged away by the natives, in my mind, miraculously look back to God’s plan and will. Such a heart wrenching ending that I simply must know how Jakob’s family saga ends.
Profile Image for Elaine Cooper.
Author 11 books159 followers
December 31, 2017
This first book in the two-part Northkill Amish series was a reading experience unlike any other. What makes this novel even more gut-wrenching is that the story is based on true events that happened to the ancestors of the authors. In astonishing descriptions based on solid research, the authors bring to life the story of an Indian attack on an Amish family during the French and Indian War. It is brutal and painful to read, yet so astounding in the depth of the spiritual struggle of the captives that are forced to undergo suffering and separation from loved ones. It is a book I could not put down and will never forget. I am anxious to read the sequel.
Profile Image for Diane.
624 reviews
August 17, 2021
I really liked this book and found it hard to put down. I found the lifestyle of the Amish really interesting. It was also amazing that they were able to be really successful farmers considering the fact that they settled in what must have been wilderness at that time. There was quite a bit of the book devoted to letting the reader get to know each of the characters. The action, of course, really picked up from the time of the attack by the Native Americans. I didn't know that things like this happened during the course of the French and Indian War. And I didn't know that the French were okay with the capture and selling of American colonists.
Profile Image for Dede Janzen.
123 reviews
November 8, 2017
I read this book for one of my group's book of the month for November. It was a good book based on Amish community that came to America to be able to freely be able to practice their religion. However, the French teamed up with tribes in the local area burned their house, murdered their families, and scalped men, women and innocent children. The Amish stuck with their beliefs and did not use guns to defend themselves. The ending was abrupt or it could just be it was going along well and the reader wanted more information. I am sure that information the reader seeks is in the next book.
Profile Image for Chris.
138 reviews
October 20, 2017
I really like this book but did not know there was a part 2 before I started it. Had I known, I would have gotten both together. Maybe I should have paid better attention but am looking forward to the rest of the story. I just have to wait till my request comes in at the library. :)
226 reviews
June 6, 2018
I will need to read the sequel to get the full story, but this is well researched and speaks to parts of the French and Indian War that don't get as much exposure as some wars. Did I love this? No, but because of the atrocities. The writing/the storytelling is quite good.
Profile Image for Jessica Brodie.
41 reviews12 followers
April 25, 2018
Excellent book! It blends faith and history remarkably well, resulting in a definite page-turner. I'm excited about reading Book 2 next, "The Return." I highly recommend it.
18 reviews
May 10, 2020
The only bad part about this book is I didn’t realize there was a 2nd book until I started to read it. I couldn’t put it down.
18 reviews
December 6, 2020

So well written...you feel the strength of family and faith, the grief of the attack, and the fear, helplessness and hopelessness of both captives and survivors, supported by the strong faith in God.
Profile Image for Melba.
337 reviews6 followers
August 3, 2014
I really enjoyed this book, and I am looking forward to reading the next book. I didn't know it had a sequel to it, but it was worth the read anyway. This is based on true events, and it shows what many early settlers went through; however, it also shows how many were at peace with the Native Americans here, until the French got involved and incited them to raid, pilfer, capture & kill local settlers.
Profile Image for JP.
1,149 reviews37 followers
January 1, 2017
Hostetler and Hochstetler add color and belief to the story of the raid and capture of Amish believers in the Northkill settlement. I really enjoyed how this book conveyed the Amish struggles, both physical and spiritual. It does so while remaining true to the known facts and the backdrop of the French and Indian War. Anyone would find it a worthy historical fiction adventure, even more so if, like me, they are one of the more than ten thousand known descendants of Jakob Hochstetler.
Profile Image for Lynn Kavanagh.
8 reviews
November 8, 2016
This was an excellent book. It is based on historical events and there are times it's difficult to read due to graphic content. However it is a very gripping book, I had a difficult time putting it down. My only disappointment was realizing at the end that it's part of a series, so I was left with a lot of questions. Other than that if you chose to read it, you will not be sorry.
Profile Image for Jenny Carr.
218 reviews2 followers
May 26, 2014
Very well written, although a little harrowing at times. I am waiting for the 2nd part to be released.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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