The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

by Alyssa Palombo


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250127617
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 66,788
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 8.28(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.

Read an Excerpt


The Schoolmaster

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

"Katrina!" my mother's voice called, summoning me from downstairs. "We've a guest! Do come down, dear!"

I rolled my eyes and put my book aside. We always had a guest, or nearly so. My father was the most prosperous farmer for miles around, making him Sleepy Hollow's unofficial lead citizen, and as such we often entertained our fellow townsfolk, in addition to travelers passing through: our home was the largest for many miles, situated conveniently along the Albany Post Road, and therefore the first place they would stop to pay their respects, usually in hopes of a handout. Word had long since traveled far and wide that the esteemed Baltus Van Tassel could not turn anyone away.

I should not be so uncharitable, I knew; but it wearied me, a girl who preferred the company of her books and her dog and of nature, to have to entertain strangers so often. That these travelers and visitors were usually men who seemed to find it their right to openly ogle the heiress of so wealthy an estate only meant I had grown quite tired indeed of assisting my mother in playing hostess.

Perhaps, I mused, smoothing my hair before my mirror, I had better give some consideration to these bachelors, before I wake up someday soon to find myself betrothed to Brom Van Brunt.

But I would not think on that now.

Satisfied I looked as respectable as could reasonably be expected on such short notice, I left my bedroom and went down the stairs, my dog, Nox, uncurling from his nap on my bed and following after me. I stepped into the kitchen at the rear of the house, where my mother was issuing instructions to Cook. She nodded for me to pick up the tray that held two silver mugs, filled with the pale wheat beer made in the brewery my father owned, and take it out onto the portico. The large porch was situated at the back of the house and framed gorgeous, sweeping views of the Hudson. I took the tray without comment, Nox trotting at my side. It was a routine we had long since perfected.

"Ah, and here is my lovely daughter, Katrina," my father's booming, jovial voice said as I entered the parlor. He spoke English, I noticed, rather than the Dutch we used in casual company. I had grown up speaking both languages, as did most local families of wealth and property. Our guest must be from a different region of the country. "So nice of you to join us, my dear. Pray, set that down and meet our guest."

I placed the tray on the low table between my father and the other man, then straightened to see that the stranger had risen on my entrance. "Miss Van Tassel," he said, taking my hand and bending to kiss it. His speech was clear, crisp. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

I was taken aback by his courtly manner, and even more so by his appearance — but agreeably so.

He was young, that much was certain — likely only in his early twenties. He was tall and gangly, with long arms and legs; he nearly towered over me. Were my father to stand, his own considerable height would be no match for this man. His brown hair, which he had tied back at his nape with a simple black ribbon, was shot through with gold. Wide eyes stared back at me, a startling deep green, like the moss that grew at the banks of the stream in the woods. His ears, I noted, were unfortunately large, yet somehow made his already pleasant face even more endearing. He was handsome, but not too much so.

"The pleasure is mine, sir," I said, not untruthfully.

"Katrina, my dove, this is Mr. Ichabod Crane, our new schoolmaster, just come from Connecticut," my father said. "He has come to visit with us in the hopes that we may smooth his way as he joins our fair community."

The schoolmaster turned to me. "I have heard tales of your father, miss, and his exceeding kindness and generosity. Therefore I had hoped I might prevail upon him on my arrival, seeing as I know no one here."

"You have certainly made the best choice available to you, Mr. Crane," I said, my words coming out in an unexpectedly low, throaty pitch. "My father is indeed a pillar of our community, worthy of all the praise you have heard, and more."

"And who is this distinguished-looking gentleman?" Mr. Crane asked, his attention turning to Nox at my side. He extended a hand slowly, and Nox stepped forward, sniffing him thoroughly. His large, bushy tale began to wag, indicating his approval. Mr. Crane took it as such and reached out to scratch Nox behind his ears, something the big dog enjoyed immensely.

"This is my dog, Nox," I said. "He was born into a litter of herding dogs my father raised, and I could not resist taking him into the house as a puppy and spoiling him." He was also an excellent judge of character, and if he liked this Mr. Crane, my initial favorable reaction to the schoolmaster was justified.

"Nox," Mr. Crane mused, as the dog shifted closer, giving him better access to the spot behind his ears. "Latin for night, is it not?"

I smiled, delighted. "Indeed. He was black as night when he was a puppy, though now that coloring remains only on his face and ears, as you see." The rest of Nox's coat was a magnificent gray and brown brindle.

"And do you speak Latin, Miss Van Tassel?"

"Just a bit. I expressed an interest, and so my tutor in my younger years taught me a little."

My father chuckled, patting my hand. "Katrina is my delight, Mr. Crane," he said. "She is the only child the Good Lord saw fit to send to my wife and me, and yet I hardly think any other daughter — or son, for that matter — could be her equal."

"I am certain that is true," Ichabod Crane said, smiling at me.

"Indeed, indeed," my father said. He reached for his mug of beer. "And now, a toast." At this, our guest hastily picked up his own mug. "To you, sir, and to your future endeavors in our fair town. May you succeed in amply educating our young ones."

"Hear, hear," I murmured as the two men clinked their mugs together. More education would hardly go amiss in this town, for the adults as well as the children; perhaps then the old Dutch farmwives would not look at me quite so askance whenever they saw me with a book, nor would the foolish young men — like Brom Van Brunt — tease me that my face was far too pretty to be hidden behind its pages. "At least my fair face conceals a far more beautiful mind, something I would not expect you to understand," I had snapped at Brom not long ago in the churchyard. He had stormed away, brow furrowed, as he tried to work out how, precisely, he had been insulted.

"Do they speak much Dutch in Connecticut, Mr. Crane?" I inquired. "For you will find that most of your prospective students — especially from the farther-flung farms — have no more than a passing familiarity with English."

"I know a bit, Miss Van Tassel, though not as much as I should like," the schoolmaster confessed. "But as part of my duty here will be to teach my students English, I am sure between the two languages we shall get along well enough."

"No doubt," my father agreed. "We are fond of our Dutch language and Dutch food and Dutch ways here, Mr. Crane, as you will soon find, but English is the language of this new nation of ours, so we do not teach it to our children at our peril."

"Very wise words, sir."

"Even so, Mr. Crane, should you like to practice your Dutch, you may certainly seek me out," I said, giving him a quick, coquettish smile. It did no harm to flirt with the handsome newcomer, after all.

"And, Katrina," my father added, after the two men had drunk of their beer, "Mr. Crane also brings us some news which I think will be agreeable to you. He is a musician, and in addition to his duties at the schoolhouse, he will be taking on students for singing lessons. I took the liberty of engaging his services for you."

I could feel my face brighten as I considered this Ichabod Crane anew. "This is most agreeable news indeed," I said, and this time my smile had nothing of the coquette in it — it was only genuine. "As my father may have told you, Mr. Crane, outside of books nothing delights me so much as music."

"Indeed?" Mr. Crane said, meeting my eyes. "We will have much to talk of, then."

My father chuckled. "Katrina is wont to wander in the woods and sing to the birds," he said. "I fancy her voice is even finer than theirs, but I am no musician, only a doting father. I shall entrust her to your expert tutelage, Mr. Crane."

"I look forward to it," he said, having never taken his eyes from mine.

"And when may I expect my first lesson?" I asked.

"My dear, the boy has been several days on the road," my father said. "Perhaps we had best allow him time to rest first."

"If I may be so bold as to contradict you, sir," Mr. Crane said, "I find nothing so rejuvenates me as music." He glanced over at me again. "Your father, Miss Van Tassel, has been kind enough to invite me to stay for a time, so I may get settled and determine which of my student's families may host me next. As such, I am entirely at your disposal for the near future and can begin whenever you wish."

I did not look away from his green eyes. "Tomorrow, then?"

His smile widened. "Tomorrow."


Brom Bones

I awoke early enough the next morning to see the mist coiling low outside my window. It slithered along the fields into the small stand of woods near the farmhouse, a grayish blue in the eerie morning light. Soon the sun would rise fully and burn away the fog, taking with it my ever-present fear that I might see a ghostly rider emerging from the mist.

But that morning my fears felt far away. At first I could not remember why I felt so happy. I had never been unhappy — save of late, when such nightmares had been plaguing me — but it had been some time since I wakened with such excitement at the thought of the coming day. Then my lips perked in a smile — Mr. Ichabod Crane, the music teacher. He was in our house, and would be commencing my musical instruction that very day.

Oh, that I could tell Charlotte, my dearest friend, about this: a handsome houseguest, and he was to teach me music, as well! But she had been away for the past two months, caring for an ailing aunt near Boston.

I rang the bell to summon Nancy, my mother's and my chambermaid. She fancied herself more my meddling aunt than anything else. While I waited, I poured water from a ceramic pitcher into my small basin and quickly washed my face. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and could not help but smile. I had never given much thought to my appearance, but suddenly I was glad that so many people considered me pretty.

When Nancy arrived, she looked down from her considerable height — she was tall for a woman, much taller than I, and had also grown stouter as she aged — and huffed at Nox. He lifted his head up and thumped his tail against the mattress at the sight of her. "I don't know why you let that dog sleep in your bed, Miss Katrina," she said to me in English. Nancy had been born a slave on a plantation in Virginia — though now she was free and paid a healthy wage by my parents — and English was still her preferred language, though she had picked up much Dutch since joining us. "Dogs are meant to be outdoors, not in a maiden's bed."

I grinned. "You say the same thing every morning, dear Nancy. And still Nox loves you." As if on cue, Nox leapt off the bed and gave a lick to Nancy's hand on his way out the door. Downstairs, Cook would let him outside so that he could do his business.

With Nancy's assistance, I commenced dressing. I had her lace me into a light summer gown I had not yet worn; it was part of a brand-new wardrobe my father had purchased for me in New York City. I had consented to go along on the trip and be measured for new clothing only because my father always allowed me to purchase whatever volumes I chose from the bookshops. But now I found myself happy and relieved I had pretty things to wear.

Nancy raised her eyebrows. "My, my, Miss Katrina," she said. "This fine dress just to spend the day at home?"

"Yes," I said coolly. "I ... have been wanting to wear it, is all."

"I see," she said, and thankfully did not comment further. "Shall I bring you something to break your fast, Miss Katrina?" she asked. "A busy day ahead of you, what with music lessons and all."

"Yes, please," I said. "And some tea to soothe my throat."

Nancy left, and I quickly tied back the top strands of my hair with a ribbon. I frowned at myself in the mirror, twirling one long, wavy blond strand around my forefinger before letting it fall. If only this mop of straw would curl nicely, instead of insisting on this maddening in-between state, I thought. Then I broke into a laugh. Since waking I had put more thought into my appearance than I had in the rest of my life altogether, and suddenly I felt quite silly.

Nancy returned bearing a tray with a hunk of fresh cheese and some warm bread. A cup of tea stood steaming as well, and from the smell I could tell it had honey in it. "Will you be needing anything else, then, Miss Katrina?" she asked.

"No, thank you, Nancy," I said. "But pray tell," I added, unable to hold my curiosity in, "has anyone sent breakfast to our guest?" He had been put in a room just down the hall from me — only a few steps away, really — but it wouldn't be quite proper for me to knock and inquire after his comfort myself, not as the unmarried daughter of the house.

A knowing look came into her eye, and I wished, not for the first time in my life, that she did not know me quite so well. "Ahh, Mr. Crane," she said. "I believe your father has sent Henry to look after him."

"Very good," I said, taking an imperious tone that I knew Nancy would see through clear as a new window pane. "I just wish to make his stay as comfortable as possible."

Nancy chuckled and patted my shoulder. "I'll be sure to tell your mother what a fine hostess you're becoming," she said. "But mind you don't make young Mr. Crane too comfortable, yes?" She turned and left my room, still laughing as she went.

I scowled at her retreating back before turning my attention to my meal.

Once I finished eating, I went downstairs and peeked into my father's study. Empty. I debated briefly as to whether I ought to seek out Mr. Crane for our lesson, or wait for him to seek me out. I had just decided on the latter when my mother happened upon me. "Ah, Katrina, I was just coming to fetch you," she said. "There is a visitor whom your father wishes you to greet."

"Another visitor?" I said. "I cannot imagine that President Washington himself entertains as many guests as we do." But my mother was already gone, no doubt headed outside to check on her flocks of chickens and geese — her personal pride and joy.

I headed out to the portico, where I could hear my father's booming voice. I pinned on my charming daughter face. "Mother said you sent for me, Fa — oh." I broke off when I saw who our visitor was and switched to Dutch. "Brom. That is, Mr. Van Brunt."

Brom Van Brunt — nicknamed Brom Bones for his large frame — was the town's favorite son. The girls wanted to be his wife, and the boys wanted to be him — or at least be a part of his merry band of miscreants. Brom and his crew got into more mischief and fights than anyone else in Sleepy Hollow, yet somehow his rough charm and good looks — he was tall, muscular, and blessed with pale blond hair, blue eyes, and a perfectly sculpted face — guaranteed his punishment was never worse than good-natured tongue clucking from the farmwives and tolerant chuckles from the men. It was infuriating, especially because once, as children, there had been no closer band of mischief-makers than Brom, Charlotte, and myself. But that was before Brom had done something that could never be forgiven.

"Miss Van Tassel." Brom swept me an exaggerated bow, his cocky grin holding fast to his face as he straightened. "You are as blooming a beauty as any of the flowers in the meadow."

I rolled my eyes, my father too busy beaming his approval at Brom to notice. "Well put, young man," he said. "Katrina, what say you to such a fine compliment?"

"I would prefer one not so utterly trite," I retorted.

"Well, we can't all be that fusty old poet you read all the time," Brom said, annoyance flickering in his eyes. "What's his name, that Englishman ... Shakeston?"

"Shakespeare," I replied through gritted teeth.

"Yes, him." Brom waved a large hand dismissively.

"Now, now, Katrina," my father said. "Brom only means to give your beauty its due, as well he might. You look quite lovely this morning, my dear — I notice you have finally seen fit to wear one of your new dresses."

The pleased look on Brom's face made me wish I had dressed in an old sack. "It is most becoming indeed, Katrina," he said. "You must have known I was coming."

I was about to sharpen my tongue on him yet again when the door behind me opened and Mr. Crane stepped out onto the portico. "Ah, Miss Van Tassel, there you are," he said. "I was just ..." He trailed off awkwardly, having caught sight of Brom. "My apologies for the intrusion. I am Ichabod Crane," he said, extending a hand. Brom eyed him before taking it. "I am to be the new schoolteacher."


Excerpted from "The Spellbook Of Katrina Van Tassel"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Alyssa Palombo.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
1. The Schoolmaster,
2. Brom Bones,
3. Singing Lessons,
4. Scale,
5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
6. The Old Dutch Church,
7. Declarations,
8. The Kitchen,
9. Lovelorn,
10. Dreams and Nightmares,
11. Charlotte,
12. Ichabod's Tale,
13. Rendezvous,
14. Night in the Forest,
15. Gunpowder,
16. Herbs and Warnings,
17. Friends and Lovers,
18. Fear and Ecstasy,
19. Suitors,
20. Courting,
21. Tarot,
22. The Sight,
23. Nightmares,
24. The Challenge,
25. The Duel,
26. Healing,
27. A Night for Lovers,
28. Fears and Tears,
29. All Hallows' Eve,
30. The Proposal,
31. Broken Things,
32. The Disappearance of Ichabod Crane,
33. God or the Devil,
34. Search for Salvation,
35. October's Legacy,
36. Star-Crossed Lovers,
37. Wedding Plans,
38. Mistress Van Brunt,
39. Husband and Wife,
40. Vows,
41. The Haunted Clearing,
42. The Spellbook,
43. The Body in the Hudson,
44. The Birth,
45. Anneke,
46. New Beginnings,
47. The Light in the Woods,
48. Secrets,
49. Death in the Cards,
50. The Secrets of the Flame,
51. The Woman in White,
52. Giles and Charlotte,
53. Ghosts,
54. Warmth,
55. Impotent,
56. The Fate of Ichabod Crane,
57. What Charlotte Knew,
58. The Headless Horseman,
59. The Ambition of Macbeth,
60. The Mystery of Brom Bones,
61. Let It Die,
Author's Note,
Discussion Questions,
Also by Alyssa Palombo,
Praise for Alyssa Palombo,
About the Author,

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The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
MugsyMae 11 months ago
The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel is a great retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with a lot of backstory and romance, told with a feminine perspective. I found the characters to be interesting and well-developed and the story compelling. I didn't want to put it down! I will remember it for quite a while. Good pre-Halloween or anytime read.
donnam911 More than 1 year ago
"The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel" has taken a tale most are quite familiar with, turned it around a few times and, through a new point of view, gives us the story of Sleepy Hallow & the Headless Horseman through the eyes and heart of a woman. Ms. Palombo's re-telling of this classic story is more than just an updated version. For me, it's Katrina's heart that makes this story all the more relatable and easy to become completely immersed in the pages. This is no longer just a story about a mysterious legend. Instead it's filled with love, passion, obsession, devotion, and a wee bit of witchcraft. What's not to love?!?!? This is the third book of Ms. Palombo's that I've read. She has an incredible talent for storytelling. The characters she has brought to life - whether a violinist in Venice, an artist in Florence or a young woman in post-Revolutionary America - are all equally vivid and full of life on the pages. Check out her other works, you won't be disappointed.
bkworm_ran More than 1 year ago
After reading or listening to the timeless tale of the Headless Horseman, has it ever left you wondering what happened to everyone after the storied events? Palombo’s telling gives us the female point of view through the eyes of Katrina van Tassel. Filling in the blanks with details of events leading up to the eventful night and follows through with a story that I enjoyed. I’m not sure where the spellbook fits in but the expanded story is not rushed and is filled with details of Katrina’s life after that storied night of horror and rumor. Perhaps the spellbook is the journal where Katrina writes down the tales of the village and her own story with Ichabod. The love triangle of Ichabod, Brom and Katrina will hook romance readers from the beginning but the after story is what gives this book its meat. Giving us an in-depth look at true friendship and how it can carry you through the worst that life can throw in front of you. The book will be a popular one with older, mature teens and the New Adult readers. Though the story of the Headless Horseman is one of America’s oldest horror stories, this one will dig further to reveal the reality and horror of human nature and the strength of family and friends. #TheSpellbookOf KatrinaVanTassel #NetGalley
DdayKM More than 1 year ago
Wow! As a child, I loved the story of the Headless Horseman and Sleepy Hollow. Everyone knows Ichabod Crane and I was ecstatic when I was given an ARC copy from NetGalley. This story is told from the viewpoint of Katrina Van Tassel and is fueled with suspense, mystery, heartache and love. The first few chapters were a little slow for me, but the pace picked up and I was hooked!
PattySmith87 More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press and Alyssa Palombo for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. A crispness in the air lets you know October is here and the time for some spooky reads is upon us. This is my first one for this month and a retelling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” from Katrina’s perspective sounded right up my alley. I was really excited for this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations and it was more sleepy and hollow than I wanted. Palombo has given us, in her words, a feminist retelling of the classic tale. She has taken some liberties, as often is the case in a retell and I was fine with her choices. For myself, I don’t care if jack-o-lanterns weren’t around in the 1700, or the type of tarot cards she used was historically inaccurate -they served the story. I’m not convinced of the feminist claim, other than the fact that Katrina is a fully flushed out character and the story is told from her perspective. I guess giving her more agency in the events might be enough for a case to be made. I appreciated the fact that she made Sleepy Hollow, an actual place, “otherwordly” as to allow for superstitions to breed and magical events to take place. Katrina is an only child of a wealthy farming family when Ichabod Crane come to town. He is to replace the schoolteacher and he supplements his meagre income by conducting music lessons for those in town. The two begin an illicit affair and eventually fall in love and want to get married. But not if Brom Bones has anything to say about it. He has threatened Crane more than once, warning him to stay away from Katrina. Once childhood friends, he is obsessive about making Katrina his wife. However, Katrina will have nothing to do with him after he ruined her best friend Charlotte’s life by spreading a rumour that she is a witch. Charlotte and her mother are healers and know the of the special properties of different herbs. But only those close to Charlotte know that she has a special intuition because if people in the town knew, they would turn against them. Brom knows better than to label her a witch but he has turned cruel since becoming a man. Katrina’s father has been putting a lot of pressure on Katrina to accept Brom as he believes this to be a good match. Her father has high hopes of joining their two farms together knowing that this will provide for his daughter long after he is gone. But Katrina knows her heart and it is set on Crane. She is crushed when her father declines Crane’s proposal to court his daughter. And now Ichabod has gone missing. Everyone in town has heard the tale of the Headless Horseman. Could Ichabod have fallen as one of his victims? Or did he really just abandon Katrina after being denied by her father. Was he just after her fortune after all? Or did something fouler take place. Katrina must have answers and she is not above using magic to find out. So I loved the premise of the story and the outline sounded so exciting. Once I started to read, however, it fell rather flat for me. I did not relate to Katrina at all, finding her rather unlikable. She was self-centred, a rotten friend to Charlotte, and rather spoiled. Also, I needed Ichabod to be stronger and sexier. I don’t really know what his appeal was. He deferred to Katrina a lot, well she was bossy, but he never took matters into his own hands. He was supposed to be of high moral character, bu
AmandaMarie5187 More than 1 year ago
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a beloved tale, told countless times in film, television, and cartoon form. It’s always been told from the point of view of Ichabod Crane, a school teacher. Never before have we seen the story through the heroine, Katrina Van Tassel’s eyes. In the new release The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, author Alyssa Palombo has done just that. 91ojb8IpgBL The story begins, through Katrina’s eyes and in her voice, on the day that school teacher Ichabod Crane arrives in the town of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod becomes her music teacher, and through that, a romance blooms. Yet their happiness is short lived when one fateful All Hallows’ Eve, Ichabod vanishes without a single word. He leaves behind only the legend of the Headless Horsemen and the mystery of what happened to him. This story was rich with historical detail that the reader can picture themselves in the middle of. Author Alyssa Palombo has created a world more vivid than that of the original tale. The detail in this book puts you right in the middle of town and you stroll down Albany Post Road with Katrina and her trusty dog, Nox. Each of the characters were so realistic, their motives and goals believable. Even the characters you don’t like (*cough Brom Bones cough*) can be sympathetic. Katrina was wonderful as the heroine of the story and it was wonderful to see the world through her eyes. She’s strong and smart, resourceful and cunning. I loved her friendship with Charlotte and how they always had one another’s back. Together, they were the backbone of this story. The one thing that hung me up was the magic, or really the lack thereof in the story. I’m aware that this is a historical fiction novel, and that the witchery that happens is more healing potions and vision. However with the title being The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, I was expecting more than there was. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the witchy bits that were there, I loved them! I just really wanted to see more of Katrina and Charlotte’s magic. Perfect for fans of the original tale and the many film adaptations, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel wraps you up in its cloak, brings you out into the woods, and drops you off in the middle of the Headless Horseman’s clearing. And you must spend the night there. Alone. You will race through this book from the first page until the last, gripping page.
LoudMindReviews More than 1 year ago
The young and handsome Ichabod Crane arrivers in Sleepy Hollow to be the new schoolmaster. Upon arrival he boards with the Van Tassel family for a time. He begins giving music lessons to Katrina Van Tassel, young heiress to the Van Tassel holdings, planting the seed of romance between them. Unfortunately, because Ichabod is a schoolteacher with very little social standing and nothing at all to bring to a marriage, the likelihood of Master Van Tassel giving consent to wed his daughter is extremely small. Katrina’s Father would much rather see her wed to the village golden boy, Brom Van Brunt, whom Katrina detests after a falling out they had as children. Katrina and Ichabod carry on with their secret love affair, sneaking off to their favorite spot in the woods to be together, always watching for the legendary Headless Horseman. Until the night of All Hallows Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears on his way home from the Van Tassel farm, leaving young Katrina to despair over his whereabouts. After much time passes Katrina finds herself desperate to know the truth of what became of Ichabod Crane, and so she enlists the help of her dearest friend, Charlotte, who is also known to the village as a witch. Did Ichabod run off when faced with the unlikelihood of a marriage between himself and Katrina, or has the legendary Headless Horseman struck again? When Katrina finally learns the truth, through unconventional and magical means, she is shocked by it and wonders if some truths are better not known at all. I am very fond of retellings and I especially loved this one. I loved the magical and gothic atmosphere and I also loved the feminists take on one of the most beloved old tales of all time. Katrina is a very strong character in this book who is not easily cowed by the men in her life, which is so often the case in this time period. She is determined to have what she wants, even if it means sacrificing her way of life, and possibly, her family. Ichabod is very noble and courageous, but he is portrayed with faults as well which warmed me to him even more. The friendship between Charlotte and Katrina plays a very large part in this retelling and I absolutely loved everything about it. These women hold each other up and would do just about anything for the other and yet they are not immune to the little annoyances and arguments you see in relationships between women, which I really appreciated. My only criticism is that during the last third of the book the pace of the storytelling slowed considerably. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this portion of the book, because I did, I just wasn’t compelled to read it as obsessively as I did the first two thirds. During this time we are given many details about Katrina’s daily life and benign bits and pieces here and there as to the other characters. I believe in the end it was necessary to get a glimpse of this so that we could properly appreciate the changes that Katrina has to go through in order to finally know the truth and so we can kind of decide whether the truth was worth the enormous sacrifices made in order to learn it. I sincerely loved this book and will definitely be getting a finished copy when it releases on 10/2/18. Alyssa Polombo is a very gifted storyteller and so if you love the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, retellings, or historical fiction I strongly encourage you to pick this up. You will NOT be disappointed!!
bookluvr35SL More than 1 year ago
am sure we all know the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but this covers the not as well known character in the tale by the name of Katrina Van Tassel. When Ichabod Crane comes into town he meets the wealthy Katrina and they instantly bond over their mutual love of books and music. They soon fall in love and make secret plans to marry. Brom Van Brunt, also known as Brom Bones, is determined to marry Katrina himself. Then All Hallows Eve arrives and Ichabod disappears, never to be seen again. This book was fascinating. It had the chill of the original Sleepy Hollow story, and the added excitement of the expanded storyline. This book proves fairy tales are not just for children!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel is a feminist retelling of the legend of Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. I was looking forward to reading it, because it's exactly the kind of story I enjoy. Spooky, paranormal, romantic stories with strong heroines are my jam. Unfortunately this book left me wanting more. It is slow-paced and I found the first part especially, excruciatingly boring. I am usually a fast reader but it took me awhile to finish this book, I kept putting it down and wasn't in any hurry to pick it back up. I wasn't a fan of Katrina and Ichabod's love story, it was too insta-lovie for my taste. I thought both Katrina and Ichabod were one-dimensional and not very interesting and I found the writing style a little dry. I wasn't immersed in the story, which I should have been based on the setting. I wanted The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel to be more atmospheric, more spooky, and just more.
MusicInPrint More than 1 year ago
Palombo has used the novel by Washington Irving as a stencil to this tragic tale of Katrina Van Tassel. Young Ichabod Crane, a school teacher, arrives in Sleepy Hollow and is consumed by his love for Katrina. Karina's father holding a position of wealth has refused Ichabod's request to court her. Such starts the heart ache that continues throughout the book. Some visions and witchcraft give this tale an eerie flavor. The Headless Horseman does ride! "A copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Press with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
onemused More than 1 year ago
"The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel" is a retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow from the point-of-view of one of the characters (Katrina). Katrina is a young woman of 18 who loves to read and spend time with her best friend Charlotte. Charlotte and her mother are midwives who also know about herbs and can treat ailments. Charlotte may also be able to see some visions of the future. It was this skill that got her labeled a witch by Brom Van Brunt (Brom Bones). While the three used to play together frequently as children, after Brom's accusations, Charlotte and Katrina refused to acknowledge him. Katrina's family is wealthy and so they would like to see her make a good match. It is their wealth and her father's good standing that leads him to be a powerful member of the community. As such, the new schoolteacher, Ichabod Crane, comes to call on him and is offered a place to stay until he can begin to stay with his pupils, as is customary. When their eyes meet, Katrina finds herself drawn to the schoolteacher from Connecticut. As he offers her singing lessons and they begin to spend more time together, Katrina and Ichabod begin to fall in love. However, as Ichabod is poor and would be seen as a fortune hunter, they must be careful about their attractions. Brom is also set on making Katrina his wife. Although she wants nothing to do with him after his accusations of Charlotte, Katrina's father also thinks Brom would be a good match. Brom's father (and thus Brom) have the second largest fortune/farm in the area and the joining of the two is good business. Considering they were also friends as children, Katrina's father also believes their love would grow over time (love was not the basis for marriage in the 1700s). However, Katrina only wants Ichabod (although this remains a secret due to his socioeconomic status) until Katrina feels the time would be right for him to announce his intentions. We all know where the story is fated to go (as it does follow the Legend of Sleepy Hollow). However, this is a story of love, forbidden romance, jealousy, and mystery. The superstitious town has its legends, particularly of the Headless Horseman. Katrina sees him in her dreams. While I was expecting more magic (primarily due to the title), here it is limited to visions and herbal concoctions (though I don't think this qualifies). The vast majority of the book is about Katrina's love for Ichabod and the subsequent anguish when he disappears. My favorite character was Charlotte, and I really liked her big involvement in the story and her wisdom. I would have loved to read the story from her perspective too (or maybe she could have her own story someday). Overall, I felt that this retelling really brought new life to the old story. I did find that it dragged a bit in the middle, but the ending was quite fascinating, and I enjoyed it overall. The story really takes on new meaning when reimagined from Katrina's perspective, and this is a great Halloween season read. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
TheNovelEndeavor More than 1 year ago
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own. “The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel” draws its readers into a world where ghostly folklore is more than just stories told around a bonfire, passed down from generation to generation. Alyssa Palombo gives readers an old, sleepy village rife with its own set of beloved specters—ghosts still haunted by their own heartbreaks, misdeeds, and misfortunes. In many ways, the otherworldly residents co-exist peacefully and are even venerated by, the residents of Sleepy Hollow. In this “feminist” retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Katrina Van Tassel records her own encounters with the town’s most infamous ghost, the Headless Horseman. From the beginning, the Horseman forms an intricate bond with Katrina’s life, her happiness, and ultimately, her fate. I loved the sense of mystery and the atmosphere of foreboding that permeated the pages of “The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.” A dangerous surprise lurked around every corner despite Katrina’s air of joy and hopefulness. This quiet suspense, along with the hints of magical folklore, lured me into reading this book and I found it really was perfect for fall reading. However, I was surprised that sex was featured so prominently throughout the novel. Considering the novel is set right after the American Revolution, I thought that Palombo’s characters were quite flippant about their interactions with the opposite sex. I know this isn’t necessarily a historical text but it didn’t feel believable to me as a reader with expectations about the novel’s time and place. Also, without spoiling any of the plotlines, I found another featured sexual relationship distracting and out of place for the story. Overall, there was a lot to love about “The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.” The setting, atmosphere, and otherworldly essence set the stage for a fantastic fall reading experience; it was haunting and suspenseful without being too much for this highly sensitive reader. Unfortunately, sex was featured more than I thought was necessary. It detracted from my enjoyment and the overall ambiance and allure of Palombo’s Sleepy Hollow tale.
lauriesophee More than 1 year ago
"You are not in control of your destiny." Divination, Superstition, Hallucination, Tarot Cards, Spells even witchcraft- all are found in a book that also makes for a very sweet love story. The setting is Sleepy Hollow in the late 1700's. The lovers are Ichabod and Katrina, a very sincere, and well intentioned couple struggling to be together despite her father's opposition. A terrible tragedy happens which impacts the whole town, especially the lovers. Some revert to "witchery" to find answers to the disaster, only to realize there are things one is better off not knowing This is a wonderfully entertaining book, especially for those who love Washington Irving's tale. There is great suspense, especially regarding the Headless Horseman, Ichabod, and Brom Bones. It's definitely a novel to read!