Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Washington Irving
Genre: Classics
Publisher: Wildside Press
First published: 1820
Pages: 71

Rating: 5 out of 10

This was my 3rd Halloween Read of 2012.

When pondering what three books to choose for Halloween this year and browsing through some online suggestions, I was almost surprised to realize that I hadn't read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow yet. I saw an animated film adaption as a child, and I know the story, but I hadn't read the actual book.
After requesting it at the library, I was surprised to find how tiny it was. It is actually a short story, and the edition I read just managed to be 71 pages, with the help of large font.

It is the story of a well liked schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane, in a small 1700's New York town. The town is rumored to be haunted, and despite his scholarly outlook on life, Ichabod himself can feel an unnerving presence in Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod falls in love with a beautiful rich girl named Miss Katrina von Tussell, who seems to return his affections. It is all too good to be true, but Ichabod's luck takes an unfortunate turn when he is riding home one night...

Though I am glad that I finally read this well known little short story, I can't say that I was overly impressed.
The book is just too short for the reader to ever get very invested, and the headless horseman (the part that everyone remembers) is only featured on a page or two.
The rest of the plot, which is meant to build up toward the scene of Ichabod fleeing from the horseman in the woods, does not have very much to do with the ending.
I felt that the book was pretty pointless, all in all. There were three plot elements: a) Schoolteacher and pretty rich girl fall in love. b) Jealous fighting man decides to make an enemy of schoolteacher. c) Schoolteacher meets a ghost in the woods at night and is never seen again.
If I hadn't already known the story going into this book, I would have been thinking at the last point: "wait - what?!"
Really, it has nothing to do with the plot before that.

The descriptions of the town were pretty at times, despite Irving's apparent aversion for periods (some sentences lasted an entire page - the first sentence in the book certainly did).