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The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

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When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo's The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won't erase.

418 pages, Paperback

First published October 2, 2018

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About the author

Alyssa Palombo

5 books385 followers
My name is Alyssa Palombo, and I am a writer living and working in Buffalo, NY. I attended Canisius College in Buffalo, where I majored in English and creative writing with a minor in music. I’m a classically trained mezzo-soprano who also dabbles in playing piano. When not writing, I can usually be found reading, hanging out and laughing way too hard at nonsensical inside jokes with friends, traveling (or dreaming of my next travel destination), at a concert, or planning for next Halloween. I’m a metalhead and a self-proclaimed French fry connoisseur. I also own way too many hoodies, pairs of sunglasses, and pajamas, but never enough books.

I am the author of four historical novels, The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, and The Borgia Confessions, all from St. Martin’s Griffin. I am represented by Sam Farkas of Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @AlyssInWnderlnd.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 616 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,471 reviews9,380 followers
October 16, 2022
This lush retelling of Washington Irving's classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is told from the perspective of Katrina Van Tassel.

As I was hoping, it gave me all the gothic feels!

For those less familiar with Irving's original story, Katrina, is pretty much the only female character.

She is doe-eyed, beautiful, sweet, naïve and the love interest of both Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones.

As soon as I discovered this book, I knew I needed to get my hands on it as soon as possible.

Growing up in Maine, I can attest to the fact that there is literally no better place to be in the Autumn than New England.

That is my honest opinion. It's just magical, crisp and awesome, yet slightly ominous and creepy.

Combine this with the fact that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite stories and you have the perfect Fall book for me!

While it started out slow, hence the 4-star rating rather than 5, I was completely enamored with Palombo's ability to create the feel of Sleepy Hollow.

I felt the atmosphere was richly developed and I had no trouble picturing it, from the Van Tassel farm, to the little town, to the woods surrounding the Hudson River, everything was as it should be.

I loved the development of Katrina's character and the strong friendship displayed between her and her best friend, Charlotte. I always enjoy strong female friendships and this one was particularly beautiful.

The secret courtship between Katrina and Ichabod was definitely a slow burn, but once lit, it was on fire. Be prepared for sexy times. If you aren't into that, beware, it's here. If you love that stuff, this is the book for you.

As this love was developing, the first half of the book, I was getting anxious for my spooky stuff. Where is the headless horseman? I wondered on more than one occasion. Then it happens!

One night, All Hallows Eve, of course, that will change Katrina's life forever. Her world is shattered and through the help of her BFF, Charlotte, and her long-time friend/domestic help, Nancy, she does her best to rebuild herself and to find out what happened that night after her parent's Halloween party.

I cannot say too much more about the plot without giving things away. I understand this is a story many of us know, but I think being told from a different perspective, the author was able to bring a lot of new life and details into this well loved tale.

I was impressed with this, the second half of the book really kept me engaged and I loved the way it wrapped up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin's Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and am excited to see what other readers think of this one. Great job with release date as well - October is the PERFECT month to read this book!
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,092 reviews1,509 followers
September 30, 2018
The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo is of course a retelling of Sleepy Hollow told from the point of view of Ichabod Crane’s love, Katrina Van Tassel. With the fantasy of the headless horseman, the romance of Ichabod and Katrina all wrapped in the historic setting this one was a must read and couldn’t come at a better time of year leading into fall and the Halloween season.

The story begins as Ichabod Crane comes to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to become their new school teacher. Katrina’s parents own the largest farm in the town and hr parents often play host to newcomers or those passing through the town so Ichabod comes to their home to stay until suitable arrangements can be made for his lodging.

Katrina and Ichabod find that they have a lot in common with their love of reading and music and before they know it they are falling in love. However, with Ichabod only being a schoolteacher the pair fear Katrina’s father may not approve of their marriage as he’s had his eye on the son of another wealthy farm owner at Katrina’s dismay.

I absolutely enjoyed reading this retelling from Katrina’s point of view and immediately became totally engaged in the era and their romance. I would warn readers that this one is a bit heavy on the historical romance and lighter on the fantasy but being someone that enjoys a bit of everything I didn’t mind at all to wait for the witchcraft and more spookier happenings of the book. Definitely great read this time of year and would recommend checking this one out.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Selena.
485 reviews308 followers
July 23, 2018
I received a free copy of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo from Goodreads for my honest review.

First I must say I have always loved the story of Sleepy Hollow. I watched the TV series as well and loved it. So when I won a copy of this book I was absolutely thrilled.

This is a wonderfully twisted read. I loved this feminist version of the story of Sleepy Hollow told from the viewpoint of Katrina Van Tassel. This is a story of love, suspense, mystery and jealousy.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,886 reviews488 followers
September 8, 2018
It might be only September, but with an expected publication for October 2018, you're definitely going to want to hear Katrina Van Tassel's point of view on the superstitions of Sleepy Hollow, a young schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane, and one Headless Horseman. Alyssa Palombo is vastly becoming one of my favorite authors as she is gifted in providing her readers with rich historical content about a young American nation while also making me swoon over Ichabod. If I had one little critique, it took me until chapter 11 to really get interested in the plot and adjust my reading stance to the dialogue. But once Katrina and her friend Charlotte start talking I was interested really fast.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,421 reviews77.6k followers
Shelved as 'dnf-lost-interest'
October 4, 2018
I'm really disappointed that I couldn't push through this one, but I think my expectations just weren't in the right place. I kept waiting for the story to begin, but at 40% in to a book being portrayed as a sleepy hollow retelling and continuation, there's just been lots of sex. *shrugs*
Profile Image for Juli.
1,859 reviews473 followers
October 7, 2018
I have a weakness for re-tellings. This one had me completely sucked into the story from the first line:

Washington Irving got it wrong.

Katrina Van Tassel tells her story. All the characters are there.....Ichabod Crane, Brom Van Brunt, the Headless Horseman. Only the tale doesn't unfold as Washington Irving told it. Katrina meets Ichabod, immediately forming a friendship with the new schoolmaster, which soon turns to romance. They begin sneaking off into the woods to meet. But the schoolmaster really has nothing to offer....he's poor and has no social standing. Katrina's father prefers his daughter choose Brom Van Brunt. But, Katrina wants nothing to do with him. Then Icabod disappears. With the help of her friend Charlotte, Katrina searches to find out what happened to Icabod....all the while worrying that the ghostly headless horseman might not be just a legend.

I loved getting the story from Katrina's point of view. She enjoys Icabod's company because they have similar interests, but she is afraid she will be forced into a marriage with Brom because of money. In a time where women were controlled by their families, Katrina wants a life with someone she can love. When Icabod disappears, she is determined to find out what happened to him, even if she has to call on the witchy talents of her best friend to accomplish it.

The Legend of Spooky Hollow is one of my favorite spooky reads for fall. This story puts a brand new spin on a favorite classic tale! I loved it! I feel the author stayed true to the feel of the classic, while giving it a completely new direction. Definitely a great book to read in October!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St Martin's Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
Profile Image for Jennie Damron.
452 reviews60 followers
October 26, 2018
OMG!! This book is amazing and has everything I love in a book. Mystery, romance, death, witchery, and spooky atmosphere. The writing was impeccable and I wish I could live in this world that the author created. Katrina is an amazing well thought out character. By the end of the book she felt like a dear friend. If you come across this book, grab it, read it, and enjoy. My favorite read this year so far.
Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,812 reviews360 followers
January 7, 2019
Netgalley #78

Many thanks to Alyssa Palombo, St. Martin’s Griffin, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Well. It took me forever to finish this book. Too much mushy. I liked all of the characters, even Brom. I liked the town. I liked the ghost stories. I. Just. Couldn't. Get. Hooked by anything. I'm not a romantic. I didn't realize this was going to be that sappy. I would have appreciated more vitriol.
Profile Image for Susan Kennedy.
271 reviews9 followers
September 15, 2018
Well Done. I thought this was a well written twist to a classic story. I thoroughly enjoyed that it came from the mouth of Katrina Van Tassel. It was an great retelling from the main female character. I thought the love story was beautiful and tore at your heart. The characters were well focused on and I definitely felt a connection with each of them. Katrina was a beautiful person even though she was selfish at times. Charlotte was a beautiful old soul with a good heart even though she had been wronged early in her life. She was an amazing friend to Katrina. Ichabod was a gentle and lovable man that I only wanted good for even though I knew his fate. Brom Bones was despicable and I didn't like him from the start.

Since this is a retelling, I knew what would happen for the most part. With that said, the changes that the author made to the story I quite enjoyed. The writing was beautifully done and easily read. The story kept me enthralled and I wanted to know more of the characters as I read. I thought this was a fantastic book and I would recommend.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews775 followers
September 29, 2018
I have never read THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW by Washington Irving. I have seen Tim Burton's movie Sleepy Hollow and parts of the TV series Sleepy Hollow. So, my knowledge of the story of Sleepy Hollow is based on that. Which made this story feel pretty different and slightly less paranormal from what I expected. Not that the story lacks a supernatural angle, for which I'm grateful since I love some magic in a story.

Profile Image for Elaine.
1,515 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle copy of The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone, not even my nemesis.

** Romance-y spoilers ahead **

First, The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel suffers from the ever popular false advertising banner.

Second, there is no spell book, exactly. No darkness, no drama, no witches boil boil toil and trouble, no supernatural elements, no MAGIC.

The Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was scarier than this book, you know, the one narrated by Bing Crosby.

There is, however, a lot of boring, monotonous, YA-like romance for 90% of the book.

When Katrina and Ichabod meet for the first time, it is practically love at first sight. They make moony eyes at each other. He is not only a school teacher but an accomplished guitarist and gives song lessons to Katrina.

There is flirty banter between them, and plenty of tedious amorous glances and chest heaving and panting breaths.

Then, we get copious descriptions of their secret rendezvous and repetitive descriptions of their lovemaking, which Ichabod is always hungrily kissing Katrina and Katrina misses him inside of her when they're not gamboling in the woods like a bunch of horny teenagers.

There is talk of the Headless Horseman (not enough by a long shot), and Katrina's BFF, Charlotte is an accomplished midwife and herbalist and has visions, as does Katrina, eventually. There is tarot card talk (bleh) and despicable rumors fueled by Brom that Charlotte is a witch because she has second sight.


I was more scared running in the Sleepy Hollow Halloween 10K five years ago because someone actually dressed up as the Headless Horseman who rode around and marked the start of the race. Terrifying!

There are just too many descriptions about lovemaking and sex, especially when Katrina ends up marrying Brom Bones to preserve the wedlock of the child she conceived with Ichabod, that does not add anything to the story, already seriously lacking in the supernatural department.

The last 20 pages ties up all the loose ends but the payoff is paltry and predictable, considering the book is over 400 pages and could have used a serious edit, losing 50 pages, at least, to speed the urgency and pace of the narrative. How many times do you want to read about Katrina and Ichabod rocking the casbah?

And the scenes aren't even hot or erotic to begin with!

I was so BORED and PISSED that I wasted 3 days of my life I will never get back reading this dull story.

It was not dark. It was not scary. There was NO MAGIC and NO SPELLS anywhere.

I'm gonna go read Harry Potter again instead.
Profile Image for Alyssa Palombo.
Author 5 books385 followers
March 19, 2018
Don't tell the other books, but I think this one is my favorite :) I'm SO excited for this novel to be out in the world for you all to read!

Check out my blog post where I talk about what you can expect in this retelling, and some of my inspiration for the novel: https://alyssapalombo.com/2017/09/13/...
Profile Image for Shelleen Toland.
1,307 reviews67 followers
October 9, 2018
When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo's The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won't erase.

This is a retelling of Sleepy Hollow and the headless horseman told by Katrina. I really liked the love between her and Ichabod. Really could not stand Brom at all. I felt bad that Katrina's dad would not listen to her and her happiness but then again in that time period women married who their father' chose. I think the author did a great job in telling this story. The only thing that bothered me is how much time Katrina put into finding out what happened to ichabod but didn't seem to care about what would happen to Brom.

I received this from NetGalley and St. Martin's for an honest review
Profile Image for Kevin. McKernan.
48 reviews134 followers
September 15, 2018
I had read some other Sleepy Hollow books so I wanted to read this one. I really enjoyed it. A few twists and turns which were artfully accomplished by the writer

Good read
Profile Image for Cher.
800 reviews274 followers
November 2, 2018
4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.

A memorable and touching romance that takes place in an incredibly vivid and atmospheric setting with the perfect amount of supernatural spookiness sprinkled on top. Thoroughly loved this one, even more so than the original Sleepy Hollow tale. Palombo had me hooked from the first sentence.
Favorite Quote: I knew that stories always held some truth, else why did we tell them?

First Sentence: It was in early summer of my eighteenth year that my destiny arrived, and despite my fancy for premonitions he took me quite by surprise.
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,311 reviews2,283 followers
September 23, 2018

I have mad love for historical retellings, and The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow has always been one of my favorite spooky Halloween time stories, so to say I was excited when I saw this book available for review on NetGalley would be an understatement.


So did I enjoy it? Yes, quite a lot. Was it perfect? No, I think it was maybe a tad too long. My attention started to waver a bit around the 70% mark. That said, it was an exciting take on the legend. A little bit more ADULT if you will (Katrina and Ichabod get it on...often). The characters were well developed and interesting. Although, I thought Katrina layed on the "bitch-tude" a little heavy when it came to Brom. Perhaps if she had toned it down a notch, things wouldn't have turned out the way they did. Then again, if you know the legend than you know this isn't going to end in the couple riding off into the sunset. Still, even though my poor little romance-loving heart broke, the ending was satisfying.

So yea, I enjoyed it...



Profile Image for Lucy Banks.
Author 12 books288 followers
August 19, 2018
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

An involved, lively retelling of a classic story.

I do enjoy a good retelling -especially when it's done well. This book takes the classic story of Sleepy Hollow, but focuses in on one of its most regrettably two-dimensional characters; Katrina Van Tassel.

In this book, she's no longer a mere trophy bride for Ichabod and Brom to war over, she's a feisty woman in her own right. Even the legend of the headless horseman plays second fiddle to her clandestine relationship with Ichabod (shown here to be true love, no mere treasure-hunting from a poorer man), then her marriage to Brom.

It was a fun, engaging read - not least because the characters and landscape were both beautifully brought to life. I enjoyed it!
Profile Image for The Lit Bitch.
1,233 reviews394 followers
October 7, 2018
Ok you guys, this book has been on my radar for months. I love Halloween and I can’t tell you how obsessed with Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman I have been….basically since my youth.

I watched the Disney movie over and over again and to this day continue to watch it at Halloween because it’s just that good! And don’t even get me started on how many time’s I’ve seen the Tim Burton adaptation…..like way way way too many times and every time I am legitimately scared of that damn Horseman! So to say my expectations were high for this book is a drastic understatement.

When I opened the book to start reading, I will admit, I was actually kind of scared because I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Palombo is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed her other books quite a bit, so I had confidence that I would love this one just as much as the others, so I bit the bullet and jumped in.

This book was a hard one to review. On one hand, I loved it but on the other, I needed more—-I needed more of The Horseman. He is such a central character in the classic story and in this book he’s been more marginalized. This book is meant to be more about Katrina and Ichabod’s romance and ultimately Katrina’s life and loss which means naturally the Horseman would take a backseat, but I just felt like I needed more—especially at the end.

I won’t spoil the ending for anyone but I felt like the ending was fitting and worthy of the ghost story and Sleepy Hollow canon, but I think I just needed more Horseman.

Warming up to Ichabod as a romantic interest was surprisingly easy. If I had any reservations with this book it was that I couldn’t visualize Ichabod as a romantic character, but it was easy to adore him. He was charming, honorable, and romantic. I loved that about his character.

I was actually worried that I would have a hard time visualizing Ichabod Crane as sexy and attractive, but I think that Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane in the recent TV adaptation made that more likely. Let’s be honest, he’s just plain sexy and I think that helped me gear up to this of Ichabod as a romantic figure. In the novel itself, I thought the author did a great job and building the tension and romantic interest between Ichabod and Katrina. It was believable and tender and even though it was a whirlwind courtship, I found it even more romantic because of the whirlwind!

I admittedly was frustrated with Katrina’s character early on in the book. When we first meet her she’s privileged and naive. She seemed to have more of a school girl/first love interest in Ichabod which I found frustrating. But I was thrilled to see how they grew into their relationship in such a short time. I enjoyed watching Katrina’s character grow over the course of the book as well. It was very clear that her experiences and choices changed her and she was very much NOT the naive school girl by the end of the book and I absolutely loved that about this book. I was completely engrossed in her story the more I read. I love books like that that sneak up on their readers. It gave a realistic demonstration of how life and your choices change you. Well done!

What stood out to me though and why you should read this book and not dismiss it as just a retelling or romance, was the relationship between Charlotte and Katrina. This book is just as much about them as it is about Katrina and Ichabod, if not more so about their friendship. Charlotte and Katrina’s relationship was intimate and illustrated how complex and real their friendship was. They had disagreements, secrets, and fights just like real friends would and I thought that added a lot of depth and interest to the overall story.

This book was an excellent fall read and I absolutely loved the mood of this book. The characters and plot were interesting and I was actually surprised by the ending. I honestly thought it would go in a completely different direction, but I liked being surprised.

I actually kind of hope that Palombo writes more stories set in Sleepy Hollow. I think Katrina definitely had enough ghost stories to fill a couple more books!

If you are on the hunt for a Halloween read this year, I can literally think of nothing better than this book. It’s so Halloweenie and fun! Do yourself a favor and read this book on a dark stormy night in front of the fire!

See my full review here
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,690 reviews290 followers
March 9, 2020
One would expect a retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow from the POV of Katrina van Tassel to be at least interesting instead of the sorry excuse for smut fanfiction it turned out to be.

Also, I really can't see how stripping the original heroine of her choice (because, like it or not, there's no proof that she didn't choose Brom Bones, no matter how much we dislike him) and hoisting her with a silly love story with Ichabod Crane (you know, the man who was in love with her inheritance and thought more of food than of Katrina) is "feminist," and even less so when in the original Katrina is merely harmlessly coquettish and in this retelling she's a full-blown loose morals woman who's callous enough to hoist her illegitimate child on her husband (because we may not share them, but those were the morals of the time and to retroactively overwrite them by inserting a 21st century remade Katrina isn't going to change that historical fact). Furthermore, Irving's humour seems to have flown over Palombo's head, because when she quotes a passage in which Irving is making fun of the gossipy townsfolk all she can see is "sexism." Of course, there's always been 'women are...' and 'men are...' jokes! Intention matters, in that out-of-context passage she quotes, Irving isn't degrading women for being women, he's making fun of a stereotypical behaviour. You might not find it funny if you like, but retroactively interpreting an author from another era as sinister intentions is a stretch.

To sum it up, this reads like the work of a Katrina/Ichabod fanfictioner of the Tumblr variety. And not a good one.
Profile Image for MaryannC. Fiendish Book freak.
485 reviews106 followers
August 7, 2018
I enjoyed this read based on the classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow which shamefully I haven't read but am familiar with. This book gives more depth to the character of Katrina Van Tassel, who is a beautiful, headstrong, smart young woman who has always been given the freedom to express herself so when she falls in love with the handsome new schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, she knows he is the man for her. Set along the Hudson River during the 1700's the small village of Sleepy Hollow has always held the frightening tale of The Headless Horseman, who legend has it is a Hessian soldier killed in battle who continues to haunt Sleepy Hollow looking for his missing head.
As Ichabod and Katrina fall deeply in love her father rejects Ichabod's proposal for them to marry while a rival, Brom Van Brunt seeks to thwart Ichabod's affections for her hand. Very atmospheric and detailed of the era this re-telling of the classic has many facets to the storyline, romance, murder, spells, and a touch of spookiness. I Liked the author's notes in regards to the people, food and customs of the real life Sleepy Hollow.

Thank you NetGalley and author Alyssa Palombo for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Patty Smith.
211 reviews71 followers
October 6, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press and Alyssa Palombo for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy.

A crispness in the air lets you know October is here and the time for some spooky reads is upon us. This is my first one for this month and a retelling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” from Katrina’s perspective sounded right up my alley. I was really excited for this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations and it was more sleepy and hollow than I wanted.

Palombo has given us, in her words, a feminist retelling of the classic tale. She has taken some liberties, as often is the case in a retell and I was fine with her choices. For myself, I don’t care if jack-o-lanterns weren’t around in the 1700, or the type of tarot cards she used was historically inaccurate -they served the story. I’m not convinced of the feminist claim, other than the fact that Katrina is a fully flushed out character and the story is told from her perspective. I guess giving her more agency in the events might be enough for a case to be made. I appreciated the fact that she made Sleepy Hollow, an actual place, “otherwordly” as to allow for superstitions to breed and magical events to take place.

Katrina is an only child of a wealthy farming family when Ichabod Crane come to town. He is to replace the schoolteacher and he supplements his meagre income by conducting music lessons for those in town. The two begin an illicit affair and eventually fall in love and want to get married. But not if Brom Bones has anything to say about it. He has threatened Crane more than once, warning him to stay away from Katrina. Once childhood friends, he is obsessive about making Katrina his wife. However, Katrina will have nothing to do with him after he ruined her best friend Charlotte’s life by spreading a rumour that she is a witch. Charlotte and her mother are healers and know the of the special properties of different herbs. But only those close to Charlotte know that she has a special intuition because if people in the town knew, they would turn against them. Brom knows better than to label her a witch but he has turned cruel since becoming a man. Katrina’s father has been putting a lot of pressure on Katrina to accept Brom as he believes this to be a good match. Her father has high hopes of joining their two farms together knowing that this will provide for his daughter long after he is gone. But Katrina knows her heart and it is set on Crane. She is crushed when her father declines Crane’s proposal to court his daughter. And now Ichabod has gone missing. Everyone in town has heard the tale of the Headless Horseman. Could Ichabod have fallen as one of his victims? Or did he really just abandon Katrina after being denied by her father. Was he just after her fortune after all? Or did something fouler take place. Katrina must have answers and she is not above using magic to find out.

So I loved the premise of the story and the outline sounded so exciting. Once I started to read, however, it fell rather flat for me. I did not relate to Katrina at all, finding her rather unlikable. She was self-centred, a rotten friend to Charlotte, and rather spoiled. Also, I needed Ichabod to be stronger and sexier. I don’t really know what his appeal was. He deferred to Katrina a lot, well she was bossy, but he never took matters into his own hands. He was supposed to be of high moral character, but the first thing he did after coming to town was to bed the teenage daughter of the man whose house he was staying at and food he was eating. Then snuck around for months, sleeping with her. Uhmm, yeah - not so moral after all. There was something about the writing style that bothered me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it was off-putting. Plus, the story really dragged on. I wanted to stop a couple of times and if I had put it down, there wasn’t enough of a draw to make me pick it up again. I would have loved more magic, and one spell would have been nice. Given that this was a Headless Horseman tale, there should have been a stronger connection to the tale. It was weak at best.
There was a lot of potential for a rich story. I didn’t enjoy this one. It really was more of a sleepy (a really yawn) and hollow (with no substance) tale.
September 15, 2018
Ichabod Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow after accepting an offer to become the new schoolmaster.  He is enamored with Katrina, the only daughter of his host, Master Van Tassel.

A romance blooms and soon the pair are involved in an illicit affair that could ruin them if anyone were to find out.
Ichabod knows he has little to offer the wealthy Katrina; he has no land or even a home, but the pair believe their love will gain the acceptance of Master Van Tassel and he will give his blessing for them to marry.
Katrina's childhood friend Brom Van Brunt lost her affections years ago when he made dangerous accusations about her best friend, Charlotte Jansen.  Brom is set on winning Katrina's hand and when he realizes she is in love with the new schoolmaster, he becomes enraged.

The Van Tassel's host a party on the night of All Hallow's Eve which brings many surprises for the lovers as Ichabod prepares to ask Master Van Tassel for his daughter's hand in marriage.

The following morning the only trace of Ichabod Crane is his hat caught in a low hanging tree branch near the bridge.  The town is rife with rumors that Ichabod's disappearance has something to do with the legend of the Headless Horseman though Katrina worries it may have something to do with the events of the previous night.

With the help of her friend Charlotte, Katrina sets out to learn the fate of her true love while doing all she can to keep some rather dangerous secrets.

When I first heard about this book, I jumped at the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy!  I am a huge fan of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (both the Washington Irving tale and the classic animated Disney movie) and was intrigued to read the story from Katrina's perspective.

While the writing itself was well done, the story wasn't at all what I expected.  The first half of the book is Katrina and Ichabod's romance:  they are either sneaking off to the woods together, thinking about when they will sneak off to the woods together next, or trying to keep their hands off one another while they're in the company of others. So it's a lot of romance and I'm not really interested in spending a lot of time on that.  
I wanted a spooky tale centering on Ichabod's disappearance and Katrina's investigation, which is not the case.  After Ichabod's disappearance, Katrina has secrets to keep which means she doesn't have time to investigate for a while and instead spends a lot of time pining for her lover.  There are vague mentions of the Headless Horseman throughout the novel but nothing too sinister or creepy.
I spent the majority of the time waiting for events to unfold and by the end I was underwhelmed.  I figured the end would give at least some spooky vibes but it just wasn't there.  If you want to be spooked, I recommend watching the Disney animated movie instead.

While I was bored by all the romance and disappointed by the lack of general spookiness, I appreciated Palombo choosing to write this retelling from Katrina's perspective and giving the female characters strong voices and opinions.  Palombo also did a fair amount of research on Washington Irving and the real town of Sleepy Hollow and its legends.

Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow is scheduled for release on October 2, 2018.

For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Wendi Lee.
Author 1 book467 followers
August 1, 2018
I loved Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow when I was a teenager, and later visited the real town once, so I was excited to read this woman-centered retelling of Irving’s legend. Katrina Van Tassel has been traditionally portrayed as a vapid child, so it was nice to get the story from her point of view.

I must warn you though, this is less a tale of the supernatural than it is a historical drama of love, jealousy, and heartbreak due to colloquial ideas of gender and women’s agency. There are elements of the supernatural, of course, but it’s not the focus of this story. I felt for Katrina, forced to make the best out of very difficult situations, trying to stay afloat in a world she wants to escape from.

I almost wish this story was about her friend, Charlotte, or her mother. I know this sounds weird, because “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” is about Katrina and Ichabod, and the gruesome Hessian. The mystique of midwifery during this time is fascinating to me, and I wanted to know more about the thin line they straddled between being viewed as invaluable healers and heathen witches. Both of these women also had more agency than poor Katrina, alas.

All in all, however, I thought it was a lovely addition to the Sleepy Hollow canon. I learned a lot about Dutch culture and life in the area at the time, and Katrina is a three-dimensional, compassionately rendered protagonist.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an arc.
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,772 reviews126 followers
October 12, 2018
I have never read the classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so I have no idea how close this comes to that but after reading this I feel the need to read that and compare. What does one do when characters in a book become more than just characters and you've invested your time in them, like part of your life actually. It does take time to read and absorb what your read so you do become invested then what happens when an event or series of events happens and you feel as if your heart's been ripped out and stomped upon ? #thisbookthatfeeling I am now in recovery mode after reading this. I know I need a light easy read after this. Again another fascinating historical you will learn about the area from. This book is a perfect Halloween type book if your heart can take the ache accompanying it.
How is it I've never heard of this author? I need to read more by her right away!
Pub Date 02 Oct 2018
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by St. Martin's Press through NetGalley. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Adrienne Carrick.
26 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2018
I received this book as an ARC - I only wish it was Halloween so I could have the perfect setting for reading it :) The story is a unique take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but told completely from the perspective of Katrina Van Tassel. The story is equal parts history lesson, love story, and urban legend, with a little apothecary thrown in. I loved that the main character was a strong minded woman, who was an avid reader and well educated. The book also highlights friendship and the lack of freedom that women endured at the time. Very well researched - a lot of great details. Should appeal to fans of history, romance or spooky tales....looking forward to Halloween!
Profile Image for La La.
976 reviews126 followers
October 27, 2018
1.5 stars on the blog.

This story was wonderful until about 12% when the hokey romance scenes started. Three grunty, groping, and grinding romance scenes kept repeating themselves over, and over again until about the 60% mark in the book, when it picked up again and I was enjoying it. However, it didn't get good enough to undo all the damage done from that beginning 50 percent. There was also a lot of license taken with the historical elements for a Historical Fiction story. I know they do this with Historical Romance (which is what this book is in reality), but it's being promoted and marketed as HF, so therefore I am reviewing it as HF. I don't think people used the word "gonna" in the early 1800s. She admitted in the acknowledgements that she used Halloween traditions and a style of tarot cards that weren't around until 100 years later "for benefit to the story". *eyes rolling to the back of my head* It's just not something that's done in Historical Fiction. The publisher and author would be better off admitting it's a Romance novel, so readers and bloggers like me aren't picking it up thinking it's Historical Fiction. There never ends up being any spellbook, either. It's a book of legends and folk tales; so the hook of the title is a lie.

I was approved for an eARC, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Diana.
818 reviews93 followers
Shelved as 'didn-t-finish'
October 21, 2018
I will admit that I went into this begging it to be good but after a few chapters it wasn't exactly changing my mind. That's not to say it's bad, it just didn't make me want to continue. I ended up reading the reviews on here (many of which that need spoiler warnings) and other than finding out what happens I've realized it's not what I was expecting. Like many of the reviewers I judged it by it's title, original context and maybe it's cover.
It's a Sleepy Hollow retelling! I was hoping for a supernatural mystery, not a romance featuring a character that seems kind of naïve. From what I read Katrina seemed like the type who wanted to hold her own but couldn't.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
270 reviews2 followers
January 3, 2018
I am so excited this book now has a release date, and I can't wait to read the finished product!
Profile Image for  Bon.
1,054 reviews83 followers
April 26, 2019
I read this so none of my buddies have to now. Took one for the team, it seems.

I tagged this as witches and magic, and lol, joke's on me.

First, bless you, libraries, because if I had paid for this I would have been SO MAD. Now to it:

Where is the Horseman? Bon asked herself throughout. Not in this book, that’s for sure.
Where to start? Perhaps with what I liked, which was…very little.

*Clears throat* I enjoyed that there were some progressive ideas thrown in – implausible for the time perhaps, and very much only included in throwaway scenes or moments where the heroine needed to look progressive and a feminist idol and etc. etc. Sadly, she never fulfilled that for me. Ahem, I digress. The book addresses the issue of slavery – the Van Tassels employ only freed slaves, whom they pay a fair wage, and Katrina is allowed to read a lot. Also, in the later, erm, love scenes, which were wholly unexpected, there was a bit of attention paid to the fact that the lady should achieve fulfillment as well, which is of course important and ignored for the most part even today – and also rudimentary contraceptive/abortive herbal compounds are mentioned. This is all that I enjoyed.

The Spellbook – there is none. Katrina begins a diary/log of foolish attempts at “spells” aka clairvoyant visions that instead come upon her more at random than when actively trying/memoirs book. Because “for are not truths, stories and spells the same thing in the end?” Um NO, not when I was expecting a measurable amount of actual witchcraft and spookiness going on. Not sufficient in the slightest.

Brom, AKA the Gaston of the story: Man, it was like the writer went out of her way to write Brom as openly misogynist and chauvinist as possible. Never was there an interaction with him that didn’t include some dudebro chest-beating exclamation or verbal claiming of Katrina like a possession. It got really old, and got weird for the storyline later, too.

Protagonist/ this is supposed to be a feminist take on Sleepy Hollow? As one other reviewer said, this book came off as all sleepy and hollow, lmao. Katrina is a petulant, bratty child, who abuses her good friend Charlotte, an afore-accused ‘witch’ and midwife/herbalist apprentice of the town, and whose POV this should really have been written by. Not only this, but later in the book, Katrina, who has fallen into a massive dilemma because of her sexual indiscretions, acts as though Charlotte should also get a suitor and also bang him. Okay, feminism! Yes, female sexual liberty! Educate your girl friends! But NOT by encouraging them to frolic into real societal danger at a time when a woman alone and ruined has no options. Like, this protagonist has SEEN the error of her ways and? UGH.

So speaking of, Katrina is a horndog for the first half of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance books and smut in certain storylines that call for it and so on. But here. Here it is done allll wrong. A trope I despise, Insta!love, is used with her and Ichabod, and not only are they making eyes, they’re ‘making love’ in the damn woods soon, and often, and in a repetitive, tiring narrative fashion. The number of times she “misses him inside her” made me want to vomit. Then, surprise – the idiot gets pregnant. Not only that, but when she must get married to prevent the child being born out of wedlock, she tries to fake her virginity being lost with a vial of blood. It'd have been more convincing if the girl were less dumb--- I digress again. Her husband is so dumb it works anyways, and thank goodness the FEMALE who notices blood in odd spots doesn’t say anything.

You’d think even for a rural village girl, Katrina is wealthy and supposedly so well-educated and worldly from her books that she wouldn’t make a dude the center of her life, but damn, is she clingy to Ichabod and it was revolting. The girl nearly faints/swoons/crumbles whenever it’s brought up that ill fortune may have befallen Ichabod. There were so many “my love!”s and, again, repetitive language regarding their torrid affair that honestly it is cathartic to write out my frustrations right now.

The Horseman: The biggest disappointment was the lack thereof. There are some cases, such as in good Asian horror films, where refraining from showing the “big bad” is a great tool. Not herein. Not when a ton of my goodreads compatriots dove into this expecting to see the Headless Horseman. I’ll be honest, the book was so damn boring and dry that I was shipping Katrina with THE HORSEMAN by 30% in. Wouldn’t that make a brilliant story? Indeed, the “villain” of the story, perpetrator of the mystery herein, was so predictable, I mean, there was no cast of characters, so… No shock and awe at the ‘OH NO’ revelations at the end. The horseman sort of appears. Sort of. I think he’s more of a metaphorical tool/divine punishment in this book, and I am so mad. With better execution that could have worked.

Other stories might demonize Katrina, but damn if this book, supposedly meant to bring us on her side, didn’t make me loathe her entirely. I kept think Christina Ricci’s Katrina would NEVER, lol.
I think I feel purged enough. This is just example 583758 of this year alone, it seems, where an excellent idea was met with terrible, terrible execution.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Debbie Floyd.
188 reviews58 followers
February 11, 2020
3.5 stars. The story of Sleepy Hollow told from the perspective of Katrina Van Tassel. This story dragged at times, however it was interesting to read a story told by the female love interest from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The superstitions of the time, the ghost stories that were told in the village. The author briefly touched on the history of New York state during the period after the American Revolution and as was the case for this period, even though Katrina was an intelligent woman who knew how to help manage at times things on the family farm with her father it was the case for all women to be married so their husbands would inherit any family assets. A woman who came from a family of means needed to marry "well" and not for love if coming to a marriage with a future inheritance. All in all this book was enjoyable and a different view of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
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