The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Book Review by Parisa Afkham
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving follows the story of a poor schoolmaster called Ichabod Crane as he tries to woo the Heiress Katrina Van Tassel to obtain some more money. However, he must beat his rival Brom Bones, to marry Katrina. This story takes place in the mysterious town of Sleepy Hollow where things aren’t always as they seem.
During the story, tales are told of mysterious maidens who haunt the woods surrounding the town, and a Headless Horseman who is said to have challenged many people to a horse race and then disappeared.
I would really recommend this book to anyone who likes reading classics. It’s humorous and I really loved the narration style. The book is super descriptive and the world-building made me feel like I’ve actually been to Sleepy Hollow. I enjoyed the way the author depicted Ichabod in the story because honestly, most teens can relate to him: broke, looking for love, and just living life. You might need to search up a few words while reading this book (I know I did) because of all the Old English, but it’s worth it in the end because it really completes the vibe of the book. This book was not the kind of book I would usually read but there were some really good moments in it and it was easy to get into. It wasn’t a slow book, but it wasn’t fast-paced either. It’s a good book to read in autumn and a good Halloween tale as well. It might seem short (105 pages) but the story isn’t rushed and the ending was satisfying. If you do decide to read this book I highly recommend the version that has illustrations by Arthur Rackham because I found that they really added more to the story. If I had to rate this book out of ten I would give it an 8 because I enjoyed the storytelling and the theme, but it wasn’t a gripping book that had me on the edge of my seat.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Book Review by Corey DeCristofaro
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is an extravagant tale of a small town on the Hudson River that was a major part of the American Revolution. It depicts hauntings and grief brought on by the war. The story itself takes place in 1790, only a few years after the end of such a monumental event for the town. The town became ripe with the legends and ghost stories that were fleshed out in this short book written by Washington Irving in 1819.
It follows Ichabod Crane, a young school master who takes an interest in a Dutch heiress. He is well loved in the town and has heard many ghost stories. He is easily frightened and these stories play on repeat in his mind as he travels at night.
The Headless Horseman is the most prominent haunter of Sleepy Hollow. He was a soldier from the Revolutionary War whose head was taken off by a cannon. Although to us he is an ancient ghost who hails from long ago, in this story his death was fresh. It’s unclear what the intent of the ghost was seeing as he has ridden alongside the living for mere companionship. It seems that he only turns violent if someone is afraid, reminding him of his untimely passing.
Of all ghost stories from the Revolutionary War, this is the most well known. It seems fitting that the war that was the catalyst of the modern world inspired such a beautiful tale. The story isn’t just about hauntings and terror. For the most part it’s the tale of a small town that was put under stress from a war and that is coping using storytelling.
The descriptions used by this piece are stunning. They depict the scenes in a way where you can get lost in the story and forget where you are. It truly takes you back in time. The most special part of the story to me is not the horror, which is more just a chilling story of a lonely ghost, but the setting. As you read through the story it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that the town of Sleepy Hollow is still in grief over the loss of family members to the American Revolution. It was written at a time where the soldiers who fought in that influential war were still alive to tell the tale. It brings an important event that shapes many people’s day to day lives back to the forefront of our minds. Letting us know how much was lost from a war that many romanticize.
There is one particular part of the story that mentions the capture and execution of a patriot in a similar way today we would talk about a soldier killed in a modern war. There is a grief around the man’s name and instead of being outright scared of his ghost, people are angry he has a ghost. When passing the area where he was executed, most people become sad and grief ridden instead of being afraid.
This story is an amazing read for those who want a dose of Halloween spirit without much of the scare factor. I myself hate horror and this book successfully gave me the feeling that surrounds Halloween. When there is mention of ghosts and hauntings, they are historical renditions that aim to describe the pain of war. If you are one who just cannot do horror but want to experience Halloween literature, this is for you.
Keep in mind the time period this was written for trigger warnings. There is use of the n-slur and offensive descriptions of people of color in this book. They also don’t describe women in a good light, describing them as possessions to increase their power instead of people who need love and care. This was written during the time period where women were yet to gain rights and half of marriages that occurred were not out of love.
For me, because I adore history, I rank this book a 8/10. I don’t appreciate the slurs and lack of respect towards women regardless of when it was written but the rest of the story is spectacular.