Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!)
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.
These chilly mornings and chunky sweaters have me reaching for atmospheric, fall reads. Okay, who am I kidding, I went straight into fall mode right after my early September birthday when temperatures were still hovering near 100! So supernatural tales might not have been sending shivers down my spine while I was lying in pools of sweat, but now that fall is well and truly here, I am living for darker tales and what screams autumn more than a Sleepy Hollow retelling?
Katrina Van Tassel is the sole daughter of a wealthy farmer. Though she could easily have her pick of the most eligible bachelors, Katrina prefers spending her time with books and her dog – clearly a girl after my own heart. Unfortunately for Katrina, the one man determined to have her is the one she despises above all others: Brom Van Brunt. As children, the pair were thick as thieves as a threesome: Brom, Katrina, and Charlotte. Everything changed the day Brom branded Charlotte a witch; as Sleepy Hollow’s favorite son his words certainly have weight. Charlotte was effectively cast an outsider, still unmarried at 20, while it would appear Katrina’s father would love nothing more than to see his daughter married into the Van Brunt family.
Then a young man arrives from Connecticut. Ichabod Crane will be Sleepy Hollow’s schoolteacher, along with taking on pupils for music lessons. As the days stretch into weeks, Katrina and Ichabod become close, far closer than teacher and pupil, all the while Brom still vies for Katrina’s hand. A disastrous All Hallow’s Eve leads to Ichabod’s abrupt disappearance: did he abandon Katrina when she needed him most or could the legends of the Headless Horseman be true? Could Ichabod have been taken by the ghostly rider?
It should come as no surprise that I think Alyssa and her books are great. She’s a #HistoricalFix darling – we love her!! – and her novels have a way of completely enchanting me. Her books are slightly doorstop-length, but she writes in a way that I find myself flipping the pages at a blinding pace. The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, for example, is just over 400 pages. I read close to 350 in one sitting. Short chapters (think a few pages max) plus incredibly engaging characters and plots make for stories I literally can’t put down!
Despite my enthusiasm for this one, I have to admit I was expecting something a little more on the paranormal side, particularly with its title. That said, apart from the Horseman and Charlotte’s herb concoctions, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel was far more a romance than anything else, though a romance I found myself falling for. I was swept up in Katrina and Ichabod’s torrid affair, their secret nighttime trysts in the woods, and held my breath as I waited to see the consequences of their actions. It pains me to stop myself here, but saying anything more about these two would result in massive spoilers!
Although The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel has more sex scenes than spells, I was thoroughly enamored and found myself practically glued to the pages. It should say something about Alyssa’s skill as a writer that this over 400-page novel was just shy of a one-sitting read. Great characters and an engaging plot definitely made reading this one a breeze and I love retellings that explore other sides of the story. I do wish there was a bit more of a moody, broody quality to the story rather than the overly large emphasis on romance, but I really enjoyed this one and it’s the perfect time of year to sink into its pages! Alyssa has yet to let me down and I’m already anticipating her next release!