Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Time for a horseback ride into a ghost story today with my review of Christina Henry’s Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is one of my favourite ghost stories, so I eagerly awaited this release, keen to see it through a new light.
Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that’s just legend, the village gossips talking.
Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play Sleepy Hollow boys, reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?
Unfortunately I found this to be a bit of a let down, and certainly wouldn’t consider it to be one of Henry’s stronger books. There were moments of it I thought were very good, and some beautiful family moment especially, but overall it wasn’t one I’ll be coming back to read again.
There was a lot of emphasis on Ben’s struggle to find her place in a historic setting, and small town vibe, that doesn’t want a young woman who breaks the mold. The historic sexism is still something so many women can relate to, and unfortunately will forever be so, unless anyone wants to join me for that patriarchy overthrow – you know where I am.
The original twist on the tale was clever, and the strong feelings of love, both family and friendship, were essential components to the story, forming the utter foundations of the Horseman story. The writing, of course, was skillful and elegant and impactful and everything Christina Henry always manages to be. But there was just something very much lacking from this book unfortunately.
Even if this wasn’t my favourite Christina Henry book, the original tale of Sleepy Hollow and this modern reimagining of it are perfect reads for this spooky season, which we all know by now I’m a fan of!
Please be sure to stop by again soon – you’re always wanted here!