Novel Reviews

Washington Irving- “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is without a doubt a well known story. Most people know the tale of Ichabod Crane and his encounter with the Headless Horseman. However, I’m sure many of those people know this story from the multiple adaptations of it. The 1999Sleepy Hollow book film, Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp as Ichabod, or the made-for-tv-movie, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, or even most recently the television show, Sleepy Hollow, that premiered last year.

Initially, I had only been familiar with the film from 1999 and had little knowledge about what the story was actually about. It wasn’t until I watched the television show (which I highly recommend) did I sincerly find some understanding of this small town and its residents. Albeit, the television show takes places in present day and Ichabod and his wife Katrina are the only ones who come from the time period the short story takes place in. That being said, there are plenty of things that are changed and added for the television show to work and keep people interested. After all, the story of Ichabod Crane is a short one indeed.

When I finally did read the actual short story, I was surprised at how truly insignificant Ichabod Crane was. He was just a simple man who attended a party, hoped to win the heart of the lovely Katrina Van Tassel and was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he encountered the Horseman. I admire Irving’s ability it get straight to the point. He gave enough back story on the superstition of the Horseman that the audience would be intrigued and would wonder if the tales were actually true. In fact, Irving made it seem as though the encounter with the Horseman wasn’t really all that important. It was just something that happened in this small town and choosing to believe in him or not was one’s own business. Ichabod was the real story and his fate was just that, his fate. Whether we ever find out what truly happened to him that night is whole different story.

Verdict: 11/12

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H.P. Lovecraft- “The Outsider” (1926)

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“The Outsider” is a short story by American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written between March and August 1921, it was first published in Weird Tales, April 1926. In this work, a mysterious man who has been living alone in a castle for as long as he can remember decides to break free in search of human contact. – Goodreads

Now, I’m not one who would put the horror genre at the top of my “Most Read” list on the account that the imagination can be more horrifying and scary than seeing actual “horror” played out on a screen in front of you. That being said, I’m also not one to completely dismiss the genre simply because I don’t like being scared. The Outsider

Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” is a strange story indeed. It was one that I found slightly jarring simply by his zealous descriptions of the protagonists surroundings. There was times when I wasn’t fully aware of where the protagonist was or what exactly it was that he was seeing. There were also times when I felt as though I couldn’t fully understand the protagonist as he struggles to understand the world and the people around him. But I find, now, that this misunderstanding is the entire point.

Lovecraft writes:

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight proves grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered tress that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me–to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

When he leaves the castle and searches for long sought after human contact, what he comes across is not what he expects. Which is exactly what I, as a reader, discovered when I finished the story. Nothing was as I expected it to be and neither was the protagonist. I took nothing in this story and came out with more than I bargained for. All in all, this story will throw you for a loop.

Verdict: 10/12