I feel as if I’ve known of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for ever. The Headless Horseman. The midnight ride. The pumpkin.
I knew that – however much I loved it – the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp film took massive liberties… And even more liberties in the Fox network series Sleepy Hollow which was enjoyable enough brain candy.
But it was only when Audible offered me the audiobook for free that I came to realise that I’d never actually read the original.
It is only a small book – only just over an hour as an audiobook – and the Headless Horseman only makes a brief appearance. The story is, however, wonderful! Irving’s language and description of both the countryside and his protagonist are exquisitely ridiculous.
The long descriptions of the abundance of the Van Tassel farmlands was fantastic: rich, sensuous and genuinely funny.
Ichabod Crane is neither a sceptical police constable nor a defecting British soldier. He is, in fact, a gangly, socially inept, romantically hopelessly ambitious school teacher. A pedant who revels in and wholeheartedly believes the dark and otherworldly stories that abound in Sleepy Hollow. Everything about Ichabod Crane was ridiculous: his gluttony, his appearance, his romance with Katrina van Tassell, his rivalry with Brom ‘Bones’, his superstitious credulity, his horsemanship. And yet he was quite touchingly mocked and satirised by Irving.
The end of the story of wonderfully balanced in that Irving never makes it clear whether the horseman is real or not.
A fabulously quirky, funny and yet genuinely quite chilling read.