Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sleepy Hollow / Severed: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow

(L) Last year's cover, (R) This year's cover. Gorgeous, both!
New 2015 Cover!! Love it!

Varley, D. (2014). Sleepy Hollow. Self-published.

Young Adult / Paranormal / Romance

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 Stars

This is a super creepy, super sexy take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with Katrina Van Tassel as narrator. Really quick and fun (but CREEPY. Did I mention that?) read!

As opposed to the original story, this Katrina has strong, modern ideas and asserts herself, much to the consternation of her father and the villagers. Often, she acknowledges that she gets away with her actions because of her father's money and position, and you can't blame her. At eighteen, Katrina is expected to follow the restrictive social norms, but she has ideas of her own. (GASP! A female has ideas of her own!)

Ichabod, despite the name, is swoon-worthy, and sparks fly fast as he and Katrina meet. I think Katrina being eighteen and Ichabod a young twenty something gave the attraction and passion of the romance more credibility. There are plenty of obstacles (not the least of which is a headless horseman!)keeping these two apart and some interesting and unexpected twists. Varley does a nice job of casting doubt on the relationship, and readers will certainly question whether or not they have this story figured out.

As a fan of Sleepy Hollow tales, I enjoyed the familiarity of the setting and many character names. All characters, new and old, were authentic and well-written. From the sleazy, lecherous Peter Bottoms to the brutish but mysterious Brom, each unique personality is clearly defined, which makes scenes memorable and eliminates having to turn back pages to figure out who is who.

But what measures the greatness of any Sleepy Hollow tale is the Headless Horseman – and Varley’s version is to die for! (pun intended). The kills are not sugar-coated, and so readers be warned that there is plenty of description and bloody horror in this book – and not only in the Horseman’s kills. Katrina is no shrinking Victorian flower, and she is not afraid to get her hands dirty and play dirty to get what she wants and/or to do what she thinks is right. There were several scenes when I cringed and squirmed with discomfort, which is a real kudo to Varley’s writing skills. My audible “EWWWWWW” while reading was enough to get raised eyebrows and questions from people nearby.

The book concluded a bit rapidly for my liking, and I felt there was one major gap left to fill regarding Brom -- plus the very last sentence leaves a wide-open, unanswered question. Given some of Katrina’s actions, I don’t think a sequel would be possible to get that question answered, so it just hangs there. Arrgh!

I recommend this to young adult and adult readers alike, as long as you understand that heads ARE gonna roll.

Thank you to Dax Varley for giving me an autographed copy of the first version, titled Severed, when I met her at the 2014 Texas Library Association Conference. There were no strings attached, though I am happy to post this honest review in appreciation of her generosity. 

On sale at AMAZON and Barnes and Noble

See the (not nearly as creepy as book)Trailer:

About the author: To learn more about Dax Varley, (she has OTHER AWESOME BOOKS) visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

Inside of my autographed copy!
Click for Hall Ways Review

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