It’s Throwback Thursday where we review a Classic from literature. In honor of Halloween, we’ll be reviewing ghoulishly scary and spooky books throughout the month of October.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving (Juvenile Fiction)
About two miles past the village of Tarry Town, there is a little village which is perhaps one of the quietest places in all the world. It’s known as Sleepy Hollow and is thought to be bewitched. Residents have been known to see strange sights or to hear voices in the night air. There is never a shortage of ghostly tales or haunted spots, but the dominant spirit that holds dominion over all is the lone headless figure on horseback.
If you think Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is similar to Disney’s 1949 animated Halloween staple, think again. Irving gives us three characters (Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, and Brom Van Brunt a/k/a Brom Bones) with three very different desires (to be the boss, to be the bride, and to be the best). First, we have Ichabod Crane who, contrary to his appearance and demeanor, is quite the adept opportunist. He woos old Baltus Van Tassel’s daughter, Katrina, motivated not by his passion, but rather by her purse for Ichabod realizes that she is the natural heir apparent to her father’s estate. Then there’s the charming Katrina Van Tassel who is as manipulative as she is beautiful. She leverages Ichabod’s feelings for her merely to motivate her apathetic suitor, Brom, toward matrimony. Lastly, we have Brom Van Brunt who is nothing more than a jealous and possessive man-child with a penchant for childish pranks and an aversion to adult responsibility.
Irving gives us an emotionally charged and haunting tale of ghosts, legends, love, greed, and jealousy…all tightly wrapped within a thick, black cloak and sitting high atop a powerful, red-eyed steed. All is not what it seems to be in the tranquil hamlet of Sleepy Hollow, and master storyteller Washington Irving reminds us that appearances can be deceiving and fear only has the power we give it.
* Book cover image attributed to http://www.scholastic.com