Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Published by Broadway Books, September 18, 2014. Paperback of 294 pages at $7.99.
The cover: The top is dominated by images of Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills, as played by Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. They’re looking serious set against the backdrop of some gothic trees in brown backlight. The title Sleepy Hollow is just as big as they are, with the book’s title and author name at the bottom. Decent cover. I didn’t care for the distressed look which had me going though a few books wondering if there wasn’t one that was undamaged. Interesting to see that the photo takes precedence over the show title, book title, and author, but that is how it caught my eye in the bookstore. Overall grade: A-
The premise: From the back cover, “It’s a cold day in Sleepy Hollow, and Ichabod visits Patriots Park for a moment of peace. Instead, he receives a disturbing vision from his wife, Katrina, in which she delivers a cryptic but urgent message: he must retrieve the Congressional Cross that he was awarded by the Second Continental Congress for bravery in action. There’s just one problem: Ichabod was killed before he ever received the medal, and he is not sure where it might be. Together, Ichabod and Abbie set out to uncover the mystery of the cross and its connection to George Washington and his secret war against the demon hordes. They soon learn that a coven of witches is also seeking the cross in order to resurrect their leader, Serilda, who was burned at the sake during the Revolutionary War. Now they must locate the cross before the coven can bring back Serilda to exact her fatal revenge on Sleepy Hollow.” This sounds like an episode of the show, set sometime during the first season. I have enjoyed a lot of DeCandido’s Star Trek novels, so my hopes are high. Overall grade: A
The characters: DeCandido has nailed the voices of Crane and Mills wonderfully. The banter between them and their reactions, both internal and external, are spot on with the way Mison and Beharie deliver their lines. If the book had been the two of them just having a conversation in their secret library, I would have been happy because of the way DeCandido writes them. I was especially pleased with her modern day references that confused Crane, an aspect of their relationship touched upon on television. Crane, being the outsider, naturally gets the bulk of scenes and he is just as delightful here as he is in the show. I especially liked his reactions upon visiting a fort. Abbie is much more in police mode here than shown in the series, and this was a welcome trait to have her illustrate, as the program doesn’t often allow time for her to practice her profession, but a book can. Also in the cast is Frank Irving, who gets to do a quite a bit, and made me miss him all the more from the second season. Abbie’s sister Jenny is also present, but she’s running recon until the end of the novel. The villains are a coven of witches touched upon in the second episode of the first season, “Blood Moon.” I can’t give away much of them without spoiling things, but when they are finally revealed their intercourse is hilarious, even if their plot is absolutely evil. Overall grade: A
The settings: Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, New York, Ticonderoga, White Plains, and Bronx, New York are shown in the present day and two flashbacks involving George Washington are also shown. DeCandidio expertly makes use of each locale, giving a bit of history and local flavor, while moving his story forward. I loved the descriptions and it made me want to revisit these places. Overall grade: A
The action: This aspect of the novel was just like the series. Supernatural events occur that are horrifically graphic, yet in line with the violence of the show. When our heroes encounter the after effects of these events, and the villains that cause them, the tension is palpable and leave the reader is doubt as to what will happen next. Even though this set between the episodes “The Golem” and “The Vessel” and the leads will survive, it’s questionable as to how they will do so. This was very well done. Overall grade: A+
The conclusion: The final confrontation seemed right out of the series as each player has to confront their own private hell and try to overcome it. It was questionable if they all could, and I was pleased to see them play out as they did. Loved Jenny! There’s a comforting bookend effect as the tale ends where it began, and I appreciated the down time after all the action. Overall grade: A
Historian’s notes: There are six pages after the story that shows what elements of the novel DeCandido drew from fact, those that were fudged for the story, and what was complete fiction. Ye gods, was this great! I wish all historical fiction novels did this! I had to go back into the story to see what bits DeCandido placed for authenticity and it made me happy he made the effort as a writer to insert them, and for including these six pages. Overall grade: A+++
The final line: Fans of the series will wish this was a filmed episode, and curious fans can jump in and enjoy without feeling overwhelmed. This has me hopeful that more original adventures of this series will be produced and DeCandido will be invited back. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.