Oct 22

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.  This post has affiliate links.

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel:

A Story of Sleepy Hollow

by Alyssa Palombo

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.

My review:

Warning! This review contains spoilers – read at your own risk!

I haven’t done many book reviews lately because I haven’t been reading much.  Thankfully, an awesome rep pitched this book to me and I just couldn’t resist it.

Like many of you, I’ve grown up with many tales talking about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. I bet at least one teacher read this tale to you or had you read it in school.  Maybe you saw the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Disney’s animated version from 1949.  Or you saw Tim Burton’s live-action version, Sleepy Hollow, that started Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, and Christopher Walken.  Finally, there’s also the TV series from Fox that started in 2013 that really delved into the history of the tale.  I remind you of all of these because they really did play a part of how I perceived the characters in the book.

It took me a bit to get into this book, maybe because it was still rather warm in my area.  But one rainy day, I picked up this book and became instantly absorbed.  At first, I had to laugh a bit at the fact that Katrina falls in love with Ichabod, a man who still sticks in my mind is a beanpole, a la Disney’s animated version.  But then I think of Johnny Depp and especially the TV version of Ichabod, and I fell in love too.  I do also think that Ichabod was a novelty to a village that had had the same inhabitants for years, as evidenced by Katrina’s lifelong friend Charlotte, and their shared enemy since childhood, Brom.  Anybody new would probably have been something of a fascination to Katrina, but Ichabod held and kept that sparkle for her.

As I read, I was somewhat on edge.  I tend to absorb the feelings from books, so even while Katrina was in the throes of a passionate affair with Ichabod, I knew just how much it was putting her future on the line.  The author does a wonderful job of conveying the tumultuous passion of a forbidden romance to the reader.  There were many moments that my younger heart sided with Katrina but my older mind wanted to stop while she still could.

There is heartbreak in this novel, and plenty of it.  Just when you think Katrina has overcome one major hurdle in life and is starting to settle into a comfortable routine, her world is shattered once again.  She is a stronger woman than I and manages to muddle on, all the while nursing that broken heart.

My only complaint about this novel is that I wish we knew what Katrina did with the rest of her life.  I know she settled for companionship once only to be betrayed, but I wonder if she dared to seek that out again.  I have hope that the vague ending is leading to another book, which I would happily welcome.

I live in the next county over from Westchester County in New York, which is the home to the real life town of Sleepy Hollow.  Naturally, this town has tons of great events for Halloween but I haven’t ever been able to visit them.  I feel like living this close to where the story took place really heightened my enjoyment.  I love reading about local history, and while this was a fictionalized account, it’s thrilling to be reminded that a well-known legend was born so close to me.  I also enjoyed the other legends about the area that Katrina put into writing; whether or not they were true, they added to the mystery and allure of Sleepy Hollow and surrounding areas.

If you’re in the mood for a spooky read that also has a heart-wrenching love story, pick up The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo.  But be warned, you better be ready to spend the day in bed just reading, because you’ll be far too absorbed to put this book down.

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