Author: Christina Henry
Release Date: 30/9/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 37
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Titan ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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 it’s just a 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?
I was so looking forward to this one. Combining Christina Henry, who I adore for her dark and out of the box retellings, and the Classic tale of Sleepy Hollow! I was fully anticipating this to be AMAZING. Unfortunately, I think I over hyped this a little too much in my mind. It was OK. There were some interesting elements but overall I felt let down by the plot, they mystery just wasn’t as spooky or dark as I have come to expect from Henry and overall it just left me underwhelmed.
On the positive side I really liked the main character Ben, grandchild of Brom and Katherine from the original tale, they were a great character to follow. They were tenacious and adventurous and just a really exciting person to read about at they uncovered the mystery of their town. I adored the relationship between Ben and Brom, but also the contention and understanding between Ben and Katherine. They really felt like family filled with love. I thought the insight into Brom and Katherine’s marriage was also really touching and loving. They also had interesting story of their acceptance of being female at birth but identifying as male and pushing for that acceptance, particularly in the time period this is set . I cannot attest to how this plot line would sit with those who are in the trans/non-binary community and I would urge you to seek out own voices reviewers for how well this part of the story is told. I did find it an interesting twist but I also felt it was a little performative at times as it didn’t really have too much baring on the over arching horseman plot.
The horseman plot was the real let down. There was a lot building in the tension and how events were effecting the town were interesting but we only got the barest of glimpses and the overall reveal was predictable and I dare say boring. I just felt so much more could have been done. The pacing also seemed off. There were long moments of exposition, while more emotional and impactful moments were skipped over. Then a time skip at the end just seemed to reset the emotional resonance and it lost what impact it was building towards for me. Overall I was entertained but I wouldn’t be reaching for it as my go to Christina Henry read or even a spooky read for the season. Henry has much better stories out there than this one.