The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo Book Cover

Book Summary

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.

Book Details

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo
Published October 2nd 2018 by St. Martin's Griffin
Fiction / Romance / Historical
Paperback, 416 pages
Source: ARC from NetGalley
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


Book Review

October is the perfect time of year, in my opinion, to indulge in reading all things mysterious and supernatural. The kinds of reads that invoke chills and thrills and that are filled with strange happenings and spooky atmosphere. Retellings of classics are always an interest to me and I could not wait to read Palombo’s take on an American classic that is as haunting and well loved today as it was when it was first written.

THE SPELLBOOK OF KATRINA VAN TASSEL by Alyssa Palombo takes Washington Irving's classic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and gives it a new twist as readers hear the story from Katrina’s viewpoint while delivering to readers a forbidden romance, a fierce friendship, mystery and a touch of the supernatural.

Woven into the story is the wonderfully atmospheric and otherworldly town of Sleepy Hollow.

What I really enjoyed about this story was the sense of the town of Sleepy Hollow and its otherworldly feel while Palombo creates this vivid picture of an early American Dutch settlement along the Hudson River Valley. I could easily picture the village, the Albany Post Road, and the winding beauty of the Hudson River. Even the food, drinks and clothing were scrumptiously described. A touch of spine-tingling horror seems to wrap the town of Sleepy Hollow in its embrace but the beauty of it beckons regardless.

It was early summer of my eighteenth year that my destiny arrived and despite my fancy for premonitions, he took me quite by surprise.

Forbidden romance is a key element in the story.

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel is very much a romantic tale of first love and of forbidden love. The building romance between Katrina Van Tassel the new schoolmaster Ichabod Crane took me by surprise but I really enjoyed their passionate romance.

There’s plenty of tension as Katrina’s childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, is determined to remain a suitor of Katrina’s and gain her favor despite her adamant refusal to be courted by him. Whether you are familiar with the classic tale or even Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, you can’t help but wonder how the romance will play out and if that fateful night on All Hallows Eve will indeed separate this passionate couple.

One of the best features of the story is the strong female friendship presented between Katrina and Charlotte.

This story is very much about women and friendship. Charlotte Jansen and Katrina have been friends since they were just girls, and through the course of it all, they have weathered some rough trials together. Readers who enjoy positive female friendships will definitely enjoy these two ladies together. What makes their devoted friendship even more interesting is the fact that Charlotte is rumored to be a witch.

For all its romance, gorgeous atmosphere and positive portrayal of female friendship, I remained disappointed in the supernatural aspect of the story.

Despite being well written, I could not help but be disappointed in the lack of certain key elements in the story, namely the iconic Headless Horseman who remained missing for much of the story and the lack of supernatural elements.

Yes, there are hints of it—tarot cards, potions, and premonitions, and a book that really isn’t a spellbook, but I never had the sense of doom from the rumored Hessian soldier believed to have lost his head in battle and who haunts the forests and roads. He remained, for the most part, an enigma that really doesn’t come to play until the end which was really disappointing for me.

In the End

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo is a compelling read. One that reinvents the story from a woman’s perspective. But readers should know that this is less a story of Headless Horseman and the supernatural but one of romance and societal customs.