Having grown up not far from Tarrytown NY where the Legend of Sleepy Hoolow was based! And having visited there while in elementary school, I was intrigued by the idea of a story that use Irving’s story as inspiration. I also must note that I am writing this review after having read the entire trilogy in one sitting (ok, on weekend, but that’s really not much different) so I have the benefit of having the story completed while forming my opinion of each book.
The story of the first book was clearly incomplete. It was such a cliffhanger that I think I would have had a hard time waiting for the second installment. Although, I will say that the”cliffhanger” wasn’t really all that unexpected. It is clear from the instant we meet Caspian that there is something off about him. When writing my synopsis for my log, I had to make Kristen a character even though it is really only her memory that we see since her memory plays such a large impact on Abbey and the events of the story (all the way through the trilogy too).
Kristen and Abbey were best friends from the time they were little. They grew up in a small, albeit famous, NY town that of Sleepy Hollow. Yes! Where the story of the Headless Horseman is set. Then, Kristen dies. But Abbey doesn’t really think that Kristen is dead. She won’t accept it until they find her body. And when they find her body she has trouble accepting that it was an accident. She meets Caspian, a young boy she’s never seen before. They start to meet and spend time together. And they fall in love. But then she discovers that Kristen was keeping secrets. She was dating someone for quite some time and he didn’t want Kristen to tell Abbey. And then, we find out the truth about Caspian and that he is dead too.
It was easy to feel Abbey’s grief over loosing her best friend. Anyone who has lost a friend or family member can indetify with Abbey. There were moments when the grief felt so real that I had tears in my eyes because I was reminded of loved ones that I have lost. The emotions shine through.
It was also very easy to feel like we get to know the characters of Abbey and Caspian. And there is enough mystery around Nikolas that it is easy for a reader to stay engaged. Unlike the other YA supernatural love stories it is clear from the moment (at the end of this book) we learn the truth about Caspian that while Abbey and Caspian face a huge problem when considering how to be together, we aren’t likely to get an easy or traditional just kill the bad guys kind of ending.
This book really is an introduction to the story. There is very little payoff and lots of questions asked or raised. While we learn the biggest part of the truth about Caspian, it seems like there might be more to the story and a reader needs to be patient throughout the trilogy to get the payoff as to what that all is.
The quotes from Irving’s story were clever although they sometimes got my hopes up having me thinking I would find something out in a chapter and but then not having the connection be very clear. And Caspian’s big secret was pretty easy to guess too so I would like to have seen a little more subtly in the foreshadowing ability of the author.
The stuff that felt hard to swallow was how reckless Abbey was after having a friend who just died. And all of the totally swoon worthy things that Caspian says and does. What teenage boy is that awesome? He is almost a little too thoughtful. But he is adorable at the same time and he is easy to root for. It was easy to see why Abbey would fall for him and at the end, I was left hoping that at the end of the series we would find a way to see Abbey and Caspian together. As for the potential love triangle with Ben, the second book will address this and I for one wasn’t disappointed.
This was a nice start to a new series. I do think it paid to read all three together back to back though. I am not sure I would have enjoyed the characters as much if I hadn’t read it that way. It would have been too hard to remember some of the little details about each character which weren’t really integral from a a plot perspective but were if you wanted to understand the characters and feel the emotions they dealt with.
Overall I enjoyed it. And it makes me nostalgic for a reread of Irving’s great ghost story.