Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{December 11, 2013}   {Review} The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

93261From Goodreads: The chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the favorite specter of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman, who had been heard several times of late, patrolling the country; and, it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the churchyard. The story was immediately matched by a thrice marvelous adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the Galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey. He affirmed that on returning one night from the neighboring village of Sing Sing, he had been overtaken by this midnight trooper; that he had offered to race with him for a bowl of punch, and should have won it too, for Daredevil beat the goblin horse all hollow, but just as they came to the church bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash of fire. All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which men talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of Ichabod…


If you read the above “synopsis,” you’ll see the basic writing style of Washington Irving.  For his time period, the early 1800s, his writing was easy to understand and was highly interesting, especially as he’s discussing a ghost story.  However, it’s not so easy to follow and understand in today’s time period, and the writing itself is somewhat dry and, for me, boresome, especially with the huge array of novels that now grace the world, allowing readers to be even more so picky with their reads.

This is a novella that follows Ichabod as he learns the story of the Headless Horseman.  It’s an intriguing idea, and I’m sure many of us have heard of it, if not read it—my high school English teacher made me read this in 11th grade and I was a bit lost—but in my opinion, it’s anticlimactic.  Irving sets up this ghost story to lure readers in, and then ends on a bland note, one that made me feel like sitting here and rereading the story wasn’t really worth my time at all.  Likewise, I felt like there was little to no character development, something I’ve come quite accustomed to in my novels, and I felt like Irving was more so telling and not showing.  Again, this worked very well in 1820, but I find it does nothing for me as a 21st century reader.

However, in the last few decades there have been new renditions of this novella that switch up the ending and that take the reader along for a wild ride, such as the novel, Severed, by Dax Varley, and these stories are much more my speed.

Overall, I think that Irving’s short story/novella has the right idea, but just doesn’t captivate today’s audience much anymore.  Two stars.

I own a copy of this novella handed down to me from my parents.

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