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on June 28, 2009
I grabbed this for the Kindle since it was free, and like the previous reviewer, I only had a vague idea of the story from various cartoon versions.

I was very pleasantly surprised. I've not read anything else by Washington Irving. The story is simple; the prose is easy to read but in spots is downright beautiful. Some of the scenic descriptions border on poetry. Irving writes with a dry sense of humor; and he has faith in the reader's ability to connect the dots, so he doesn't spell everything out.

It's a short read - in print I guess it would be 30 to 40 pages. One GREAT thing about reading it on Kindle is having the dictionary function, as there were a number of archaic terms with which I was not familiar.

I give it 5 stars for the combination of price and quality of writing. If you'd like some good writing, a peek into America (upstate New York) at the end of the 18th century, and a little wit, go ahead and grab it - especially if it's free!
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on September 10, 2004
How would you feel if every time you walked outside in the dark, you felt a chill? What if you lived in a town that everyone said was haunted? How would you like it if you were running for your life from a headless horseman? Well that's what the schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane does in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

To begin with this book will keep you on the edge better than any other book. When Ichabod is alone in the woods at night and starts hearing noises you have no idea what's going to happen to him. From experience my heart was pumping faster than it ever had before while I was reading a book.

Another good reason to read this book is it will hook you in from the very beginning. It was so good that I was anxious to turn the next page and see what was going to happen. I liked the book so much that I finished the it the same day I started it!

The next reason is it can be scary. When Ichobod is in panic as he rides his horse down the road because he is being chased by the headless horseman you don't know if Ichabod will live or die. Even though it may not be that scary in the beginning it gets a lot scarier later on. Besides the book being scary it is also a love story. Ichabod is deeply in love with the beautiful Miss Katrina Van Tassle but unfortunately so is Brom Bones. He is a rough, bold, and strong man that would do anything to get what he wants. In the book he trashes Ichabod's schoolhouse because he caught him talking to Katrina. That still doesn't stop Ichabod from trying to get the one he believes is his one true love.

Out of all the books that I have ever read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has hooked me in faster than any other. If you like scary/mystery books this would be the book for you. Although it is a cool book I recommend it to kids 8 years of age and older because of the scary and suspenseful moments the book has in it. So next time you are at the library and want a good book, get The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Then you can get chills in the dark, too!
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on February 6, 2009
This version of Irving's tale is designed for younger children. The illustrations are lovely--not scary at all. I do think, however, that the text is a little long for a 4 year old to sit through, especially since some of the vocabulary and sentence structure is a bit advanced. I'd say this was appropriate for 6 and up.
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on November 1, 2004
Washington Irving had a way with words that none could compare with. His simple and not very scarry at all tale of one of the most famous "ghosts" in history is both delightful in it's humor and wit and charming in it's character description. If you are looking for something to send shivers up your spine and make you quake in fear, you have looked to the wrong story master. Irving was a story teller of everyday people in everyday situations. The comical and the endearing. He made his observations on life and living it and left the afterlife to speculation. That is why "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a true literary classic!
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on January 8, 2001
Have you ever heard of the Headless Horseman? Have you ever heard the stories about him and how he attacks people in the woods? Have you ever wondered whether or not the story is real?
Find out for yourself by reading Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I enjoyed reading this book and i think anyone who has a liking for mysterious legends and superstitions should read this book beacause of the interesting legend the town believes in. There are few characters to keep track of and the story is not hard to follow. The book is long but the reading goes quickly.
The story is set in the late 18th century in a town in New York called Sleepy Hollow. The town believes in a legend of a headless horseman who rides through the woods at night anf attacks people. The main character is a man named Ichabod Crane who is a schoolteacher from Connecticut. He moves to Sleepy Hollow in search of work and ends up going from home to home working as a tutor. One of his students is 18 year old Katrina Van Tassel who comes from a wealthy family. Ichabod gets the idea that he will try to marry Katrina in order to obtain the family's wealth. However, Katrina's boyrfriend Abraham "Brom Bones" Brut has other plans for Ichabod. As the tension rises, Ichabod continues trying to win Katrina until a breathtaking surprise appearance by the town's legend creates as mysterious an ending as they come.
The book has many strengths and few weaknesses. The author manages to create a mood in the book that keeps you always on th edge of your seat waiting for the legend of the Headless Horseman to come into play. The story is simple and easy to follow but is still very interesting. The characters are developed well and have personalities that you can understand and relate to. One such character is Brom Bones who is easily seen as an arrogant egotist. The only weakness of the book was one based on my personal opinion. The end of the story leaves too much to be concluded for my liking.
All in all, this book was a great story. The author wrote the characters in such a way that you had definite feelings towards each one of them. Also, the story line was definitely not without surprise. But if you want to discover what surprises I am talking about then I suggest you read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
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on July 12, 2010
I read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to test out my new Kindle. It is extremely short and has a plot that has been adapted so many times that I really wasn't expecting what I got out of the real thing. Irving's writing was witty and beautifully descriptive. Its vocabulary was also often surprisingly advanced for such a short book. However, if a person goes into this book looking for a spooky tale of terror, this is not the place to look. Most of the actual book is build-up and description. Rather than being the scary story that people come to expect due to the many film adaptations, it seems to be more of an example showing how people can get carried away with superstitions as well as what deeds people can perform when consumed by jealousy. Irving's hints that Brom's jealousy prompted him to perform the elaborate hoax in which Ichabod's fears of The Headless Horseman are realized seemed pretty obvious to me.
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on June 11, 1998
Like Rip Van Winkle, this tale is set in Dutch New York State in a real place called Tarry Town. The colonists farm and gossip, play tricks, have ambitions and court young ladies--in an area steeped in macabre superstition. Ichabod crane, a lanky and susceptible schoolmaster from Connecticut, vies with local hothead, Brom Bones, for the affection (and lush estates) of desirable Katrina Van Tassel.
But the sleepy region's ghostly lore and grisly legends are used for more than mere fireside entertainment. Will we ever know the truth of the shattered pumpkin by the bridge? Each one must fill in the fate of the ambitious pedagogue as seems best, for Washington Irving leaves it to the reader to decide.
Once the US ambassador to Spain, Irving traveled widely and collected the folklore of the countries he visited nearly 150 years ago. "Yet his characters are as fresh and vital today as when they first appeared in print." One edition of his stories includes: Rip Van Wwinkle, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, plus two lesser-known works: The Spectre Bridegroom (set in Germany) and The Moor's Legacy (set in Spain's Alhambra). Few authors can match his rich vocabulary and detailed narrative. Our American literary and folkloric heritage are indebted to Irving's style and imagination. What were Halloween without the Headless Horseman hounding poor Ichabod Crane through the spooky woods?
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on June 7, 2002
Will Moses' illustrated retelling of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow rivals Arthur Rackham's near century-old version as the best edition of the book ever published. The Rackham version, with its moody, archetypal illustrations, has the slight edge, as it contains Irving's full original text in addition to Rackham's spectacular artwork.
However, Moses's simplification of the narrative is masterfully executed, and the colorful, playful, and numerous paintings which adorn the book have a warm period charm of genuine Americana. Moses portrays the Hudson River Valley as a lush expansive valley not unlike the Garden of Eden on the first day of creation. Happy farmers, their wives and children, cows, geese, ducks and pigs frolic together amid fields of wheat and corn; galleons approach dramatically from the river; and the Catskill Mountains, sun, and sky suggested an infinite panorama and endless horizon full of promise.
The story tells us that the Dutch colonists were a superstitious lot, and that the Sleepy Hollow region itself was or seemed to be under a spell of some kind. The farmers and their wives suspected witchcraft; strange music was heard in the air; visions were seen; and the inhabitants themselves lived their lives in a kind of continuous dreamy revery. These tales and superstitions give rise to the legend of the headless horseman, said to be the ghost of a Hessian soldier who lost his head to a canon ball in the war, and now nightly prowling the region in search of it. Moses' nocturnal landscapes of the swamps, hills and the Old Dutch Cemetery under a bright harvest moon are particularly effective. Significantly, these stark, haunted landscapes do not violate the spirit of the book, but enrich its sense of wonder.
Moses' Ichabod is a cheerful but somewhat hapless fellow, confident and foolish in equal parts. His Katrina is a strong but innocent blond beauty, and a friend to children. Brom Bones is an appropriately square-shouldered, square-jawed hooligan, rowdy and full of mischief, if not absolute spite.
Anyone familiar with the tale knows that it is not a horror story but a folktale, a fireside spook story, and a `legend' as Irving, writing here as Diedrich Knickerbocker, himself called it. This edition of the book is appropriate for children but is equally suitable for adults. Highly recommended.
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on February 24, 2003
The original 1928 Arthur Rackham edition of Washington Irving's 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' (1819) was one of the most beautifully-illustrated versions of the tale ever produced. The Books Of Wonder facsimile of that edition is certainly the finest available today, though folk artist Will Moses' bright retelling runs a close second.

Rackham's watercolors for this American classic are very much in keeping with his earlier work, which had established him as the greatest British illustrator of his era.

Where much of Irving's tale is painted in the warm autumn hues, Rackham choose to portray Sleep Hollow as not only a place of overwhelming haunts and visions, but as a region existing in a state of permanent, moody twilight. His Sleepy Hollow seems perpetually in crepuscular shadow: the last pure rays of the sun have just vanished from the earth, and darkness, though it has not fallen yet, is falling quickly. In the artist's eye, Irving's fireside tale appears to take place not in glorious mid-October, but in storm-swept late November. The illustrator's anthropomorphic and archetypal Sleepy Hollow also magnifies elements of Irving's romantic landscape over and above the necessities of the text.

While witches, ghosts and "visions in the air" are discussed in the story, Rackham depicts the trees, houses, and countryside of the region as teeming with every kind of fairy, goblin, dryad, and witch, as if calmly revealing to the eyes of man the always-coexistent, if invisible, supernatural life of the Hudson River Valley.

His painting of Major Andre's Tree, for example, depicts a traditional European fairytale witch and her black cat familiar walking along the road beneath Andre's tree as if they had every right to be there. It is mankind that is the anxious, insecure, and mortally temporary interloper into this vaster mystical world. Rackham's trees are trees but also fairies, his fairies are fairies but also witches, his witches are human in form but also trees, and the birds resting in the trees, while birds, are sometimes partially fairies.

All of these creatures confidently, humorously, and mischievously observe mankind, which, when not perpetually scurrying home to safety, gathers together in nervous groups to share tidings, portents, and spook tales.

Irving's remarkably poetic prose is in every way worthy of the man who bears the honor of being America's first great writer. Interestingly, the tale is partially a study in contrasts: schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and his rival, the rabble-rousing Brom Bones, though obvious opposites, each also contain elements of the other. Ichabod, though he lives largely in his thoughts and dreams, has a very definite physical side: he plays boisterously outdoors with the town children, and, at the fatal party at the story's end, commands the dance floor in a way that delights and astonishes the other guests.

And Brom, who is a great horseman and a fearless fighter, is also known throughout the region for his cleverness in shrewdly achieving his own ends.

Ichabod is an ugly, eccentric "scarecrow" of a man, while Brom is "broad-shouldered and double-jointed," with a "Herculean frame and great powers of limb." Brom, unlike the ultimately solitary Ichabod, is a well-established alpha male with "three or four boon companions who regard him as their model," and who comprise his "gang." On the other hand, Ichabod, when not surrounded by his boy students, spends his time gossiping and sharing ghost stories around midnight fires with elderly Dutch women.

Ichabod and Brom both court the lovely Katrina Van Tassel in their own fashion, not only because she is a model of feminine beauty and charm, but because each covets her family's wealth and bountiful farmland.

It is no accident that the "dominant" specter of Sleepy Hollow, who is "commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air," is a headless horseman, while Ichabod is a respected teacher and storyteller, a "man of letters" and a "pedagogue." The fearsome, massively-built Headless Horseman, who may or may not be Brom in disguise, is all torso and limbs, while Ichabod is one of the few, if not the only, inhabitant of the hollow who earns his living by his intellect--by his head. Thus they make symbolically perfect, if unequal, opponents.

With his real or illusory ties to the supernatural, the headless horseman, who is believed to ride the wind and to appear and disappear in bursts of fire, is a malevolent force of nature. If of supernatural origin, then he does indeed command "the nightmare, with her whole ninefold," and all the other spirits of the air; but if merely human, then he still commands Brom's raw, "Herculean" power, and is physically far more than a match for Ichabod.

Clearly, Irving was making a statement of sorts. Brom's earthy cleverness and steely masculinity triumph in the end, while Ichabod's misapplied intelligence, more often than not, leads him towards, and not away from, superstition, anxiety, and hysteria-ridden imagining. Brom's quiet confidence in his prowess is genuine, but the talkative Ichabod's confidence is only a smug self-deception out of which his boastfulness and foolish behavior are born.

This edition is a happy marriage of two masters of their form, and contains the unabridged text.

Travelers may be particularly interested in the Rackham watercolor captioned "Reciting for their amusement all the epitaphs on the tombstones," which portrays Ichabod and three Dutch maidens standing in the Old Dutch Churchyard on an overcast afternoon. The illustration is remarkable, because, 75 years after it was completed, those visiting the churchyard today, which is now a national landmark, can stand in exactly the same spot and see how incredibly accurate the artist's representation of the burial ground was, and how little the beautiful site has changed, in mood and detail, over the years.

As Irving wrote, "Time, which changes all things, is slow in its operations on a Dutchman's dwelling." And thereabouts.
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on January 14, 2008
A thrilling and compelling read, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", captures the reader with its intriguing supernatural elements and unique atmosphere. At first read, the short story is entertaining by the masterful way Irving paints his novel. But on a second thought, the story is a prime example of subtleties, its theme and message hidden from most readers.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a short story set in the early 19th century in the mystical town of Sleepy Hollow. The story's protagonist, Ichabod Crane, is a poor school teacher who is a lonely fellow, without friends or family. From his first appearance, Irving has portrayed Crane as an outsider to the town's way of life. His actions rival that of the gentry but earn him little respect from the town as a whole. The story centers on Crane and his attempts to wed the daughter of a local wealthy farmer, Katrina Van Tassel. His plans are soon dwarfed when he learns that the local hero, Brom Bones, is also in a quest to win the hand of the lovely maiden. But the battle over Katrina's hand is only half of what the story has to offer.

The story is more than a ghost tale of superstition and the unknown but the story itself is as mysterious as its atmosphere. The power of the story comes from its abrupt end and disappearance of Crane and the secretive identity of the Headless Horseman. Irving does such a fine job that he forces the reader to question the true identity of the Hessian. The story does imply a connection between Bones and the disappearance of Crane but nothing is solidified and the end of the story. The readers are left to question and debate among themselves.
The subtle connection and tense relationship Crane shares with Bones reveals the changing ideals of that time. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was published in a new era of American history. The early 1800s was a time of quick change for America and Irving sought to portray the tension between the new ideas and old traditions of his time. In a sense, the disappearance of Crane can be seen as the refusal of the new changing times by the community of Sleepy Hollow.

Either reading this short story as a quick entertaining read for a rainy day or fully dissecting the tale for its full brilliance, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will not disappoint. With a unique atmosphere and unsolved conclusion that leaves readers wanting more, Irving has created a masterpiece.
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