Book Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving).

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is set in the late 1700s in a small town in New York called Tarry Town. The protagonist of the story is Ichabod Crane, a curious schoolmaster.

Ichabod is relatively new to town. He has moved from Connecticut to Sleepy Hollow and is a schoolmaster. Sleepy Hollow is a place adjacent to Tarry town. He is living at the house of one of his students. Ichabod is described as someone who has a lot of curiosity. He reads a lot and talks to the locals about the local legends and stories. He is especially fond of supernatural tales. The Sleepy Hollow has myths and legends about the place. His favorite story is that of the Headless Horseman, who is said to have been tortured and killed during the revolutionary war.

Ichabod is smitten with Katrina Van Tassel, a beautiful young girl belonging to a prominent farmer in town. She is sought after by many young men in the town, but Ichabod’s biggest competition is Brom Bones. Due to his interest in Katrina, Ichabod becomes a victim of practical jokes from Brom. Physically, Brom and Ichabod are not a match. Ichabod is a lanky, and somewhat awkward type of guy. Ichabod gets invited to a party at the Van Tassels’ house. While coming back from the party, he encounters the Headless Horseman and vanishes.

The story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is pretty straightforward. The first half, more than half of the story is exposition. It describes the town, the people, the stories and myths, and Ichabod The story is very descriptive in its nature. The climax of the story is almost at the end, and there is no proper resolution as such. Ichabod disappeared after that night, and no one in town sees him again. Although, there is a rumor that one person saw him in New York. He is said to be doing well, and he is teaching as well as studying to be a lawyer. It is up to the reader to interpret what to make of the ending. I like that the story had an open ending, although it does put forth two scenarios to choose from as the ending.

I liked the story overall. It is interesting and keeps you hooked on the mystery. The story is narrated differently. The story starts with the clarification that it is a tale found in the possessions of the Late Diedrich Knickerbocker, who is the narrator of this story. The way Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod Crane are described in the story; paints a vivid picture in your head as your read. At times, it did feel too descriptive. For me, the story had more gothic elements with its descriptions of the setting and the atmosphere. The horror element is mainly present through the eerie atmosphere of Sleepy Hollow until the end when the Headless Horseman appears and chases Ichabod.

This short story is a folktale. People are discussing myths, legends, and the supernatural almost all the time. Ichabod spends time with a group of housewives because they tell him supernatural stories. Most of what happens in the story is told from someone to someone, and it added authenticity to it. I enjoyed reading the story though I expected more of the horror element in it. 

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Author: Aarti Athavle

Daydreamer - Writer - Bibliophile

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