Author: Richard Gleaves
Series: Jason Crane ; book 1
Publication Information: c2013
Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Headless Horseman (Fictitious character)–Juvenile fiction
Sleepy Hollow (N.Y.)–Juvenile fiction
Ah, teenage angst. It runs all through this book.
Jason Crane is like his namesake: tall, lanky, a scarecrow with hair that falls down over his eyes. Both his parents died when he was a child, and he’s been raised by his grandmother Eliza, who has always been an independent thinker and did what she wanted. Jason is also strange because through touch he can see the future and, typically, he doesn’t want the ability and in order to hide (and escape) it he does what appears to be odd behavior; he’s weird.
Most of the action takes place in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Jason attends the local high school, where he’s bullied even though it’s supposed to be a bully-free zone. (I’ve always wondered about this. Are these schools really bully-free, or is this just another fiction created by administrators to allay parents’ fears?) The typical quarterback of the football team is at the top of the food chain, and one of the first things he does is to pull a prank on Jason with the team mascot, the Headless Horseman.
The Headless Horseman haunts (for want of a better word) the entire book. He’s always there in the background, an image of terror for Jason. Jason is a descendant of Ichabod Crane, and the courting of Katerina Van Tassel as recorded in Irving’s Legend was a historical fact. Ichabod moved away from Sleepy Hollow and Katerina settled in with Brom Bones (Abraham Van Brunt) and started a family. Ichabod’s son, Absalom, disappeared years after his father’s death; no one knows what happened to him. We find out that his disappearance is linked to Sleepy Hollow and the Van Brunts.
You see, the Headless Horseman is only part of the evil that has haunted Sleepy Hollow for centuries, and it centers on the Van Brunts. Hadewych Van Brunt, the descendant of Brom and Katerina, wants the power that his forefathers welded so to restore the Van Brunt fortune. He brutalizes his son Zef, a closet case with a drinking problem, and he manipulates Eliza, his lover Valerie Maule, and Jason. Jason never does warm up to him and thinks that everything about him is phoney. It is Hadewych who talked Eliza into buying a house where the millpond at Philipsburg Manor can be seen. This house was originally owned by the Van Brunts–the house where one-time matriarch Agathe Van Brunt welded the power for selfish reasons and who, like Absalom, disappeared without a trace.
Valerie is one of the modern victims of the curse. Speaking through a hole in her neck, Valerie is perhaps the only survivor of a power that has taken so many lives before her. She fears the night in Sleepy Hollow and will only come to the village during the day. The evil all goes back to Agathe.
It took me a long time to read this book. I would read a chapter or two, and then go on to read something else. The treatment of the underdog who never does overcome what’s being done to him bothered me. However, this is the first book in the series. It’s well-written, and the characters are interesting.
I’ve started a bibliography of materials that use Irving’s Legend in some way.