Page Count 320
Publication date September 2021
Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that’s just legend, the village gossips talking.
Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play Sleepy Hollow boys, reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?
Repeat visitors to An Average Life will know by now how much I love Christina Henry. I’m first in to request ARCs from Titan and always preorder the signed editions from Forbidden Planet too. Alas they cannot all be perfect and for the first time I haven’t awarded a 5 star goodreads rating. So here we go..
The Horseman; based upon Sleepy Hollow, the story is told in first person present by Bente. Born female and identifying as male, Ben is fighting against the expectations of him to be the good mannered little girl his grandmother and the rest of The Hollow demands.
Playing in the woods, scrapping with other kids and generally getting up to the usual mischief young boys enjoy, Ben trails his grandfather and townsmen one eventful day to discover the body of a young lad, headless and handless. Awakening the old stories of The Horseman.
But The Horseman isn’t the only danger in those woods, and there’s much more to the old tales. Ben is about to discover how deep his family ties are in The Hollow.
Perhaps because The Horseman has come so quick on the heels of Henry’s previous title Near The Bone, I may be weighing up two entirely different novels under bias (I LOVED Near The Bone) and finding this latest release lacking.
For me The Horseman has a much younger vibe- I’d personally recommend to teenagers. Though this isn’t usually a deterrent for me when reading, The Horseman had less grit than I’d come to expect from C Henry.
I felt there was too much justification given for the origins of the evil in this book, I’ve begun to prefer my antagonists have less reasoning- they’re scarier that way. The Horseman ties almost everything up with a pretty, moralistic bow that diminished the impact of the horror. Well, everything except that last chapter that just went wild and made no sense at all.
As always the character development is brilliant, the pacing is well maintained throughout and I genuinely cared for the characters. We see Ben mature throughout the book as he uncovers secrets about himself, his family and the town he thought he knew.
My favourite character arcs were grandmother Katrina who desperately struggles with Bente’s choice to be a boy, and grandfather Brom who can do no wrong where Ben is concerned.
The Horseman is a slightly dark fairytale retelling, an easy read but missing the spark I need to give it a high rating.
Check out my previous reviews to see me shamelessly fan girl over Christina’s other works: