Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fact or Fiction, Legend or Reality?

Published:  May 19th, 2005
Horseman (The Hollow #1)
By: Christopher Golden & Ford Lytle Gilmore
ISBN-13:  9781595140241

New to Sleepy Hollow, teens Aimee and Shane Lancaster find that upon their arrival an ancient curse has been unleashed upon the town, tracing back to the town's famous legend, which just might be more truth than myth.  Now an array of evil demons is after them, with the infamous Headless Horseman leading the pack.


     So, let me just start by saying that I've read all four books in this series at least four or five times each!  It might have something to do with my slight obsession with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in just about any form.  Surprisingly there aren't that many retellings of the legend.  So, I make do with what is available.  This series just so happens to be extremely well-written, so thankfully it lends itself to re-reading!  Horseman is the first of four books, and while it does do a lot of plot set-up, it manages to be pretty action filled anyways.  From the moment Shane Lancaster and his sister Aimee cross the town line of Sleepy Hollow with their Dad, weird stuff starts happening.  All the street lights blow out, people report seeing what sounds like a hellhound and then the murders start.  The only problem is that the murderer can't be stopped by normal, human means - seeing as he's already dead.  The murderer is the Headless Horseman himself, back from the grave and terrorizing the town once more.  It's up to Shane and Aimee, along with their friend Stacia, to figure out why the Horseman has reappeared now and what he wants - before their heads are the ones left rolling!
     The series mixes real-life teen drama (and family drama) with the supernatural and the series itself reminds me of some of those dime-a-dozen Alloy series from the late 90s.  You know, the mass-produced, short and sweet teen books.  Most of them were crap.  This isn't.  It deals with the fact that the Lancasters are all grieving the loss of their Mom/Wife and dealing with it in their own way.  The kids' Dad decided to move them to a small town and he buries himself in running the local newspaper.  Shane has buried himself in schoolwork and books, shutting out people.  Aimee has become the life of the party, taking risks and breaking rules.  But in the face of danger and the unknown, Shane and Aimee manage to band together to investigate and stay safe.  Albeit, not without some sibling rivalry and heated, sometimes truly nasty, bickering.  There was a LOT of thought put in to the twists and turns of the plot and it was obvious the writers knew what they were talking about.  There are a lot of references to Washington Irving, Ichabod Crane, Baltus Van Tassel and other people thought to be fictional.  
     There are some great investigations, like when Stacia and Aimee check out a supposed Gossip Tree, which is far more sinister than it sounds.  Or when they go to put a protection ward up at the crossroads and run into the hellhound-like black dog called Hizzoner.  I won't say too much more so as not to spoil it, but one of my favorite scenes is the flashback sequence with a ghostly Theodore Hasselbeck at Aimee's friend (and Shane's crush) Stacia's house.  It explains quite a bit, and turns the legend on its head!  Be prepared to rethink everything you thought you knew about Sleepy Hollow.  If you're looking for a fun, slightly creepy read greatly steeped in myth and legend for the Halloween season, I highly recommend this series!

VERDICT:  4/5 Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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