BOOK REVIEW: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow – by Washington Irving


Title: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Washington Irving
Genre: Horror, Classics, Fantasy, Gothic
First published: 1820
Finished reading: October 3rd 2014
Pages: 96
Rating 3

“I profess not to know how women’s hearts are wooed and won. To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration.”


The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow has been on my TBR pile for quite some time now. After seeing the trailer of the TV series with the same name the other day, I thought it was about time to read this classic novel written by Washington Irving. I’m not sure why I’ve never read this or why they didn’t make it into an obligatory read during high school… Irving seems to have been inspired by the Dutch culture after all. I must say I didn’t really like the story. I guess I was expecting something way more creepy when I decided to read this short story. I definitely didn’t expect it to be an almost boring story full of dense prose and long descriptions. I understand The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow was written back in 1820 and while this explains the language he used, I just couldn’t enjoy this story as much as I would have expected. But then again I was really in the mood for a serious dose of horror, and that exactly what this story doesn’t deliver…


The Sleepy Hollow is a village set in the beautiful countryside and is said to be hounted by ghosts. One of the most famous ghosts is the Headless Horseman, who is said to be patrolling the country on his horse. Ichabod works as a teacher and lives of the kindness of his students’ parents. He soon falls in love with the daughter of the Van Tassels, but he isn’t the only one… The very imposing Brom Bones is trying to win her heart as well. At a party where both men are invited, they all start telling ghost stories. Brom tries to convince everyone he has actually seen the Headless Horseman, challenged him and won the race. Ichabod finally leaves the party understanding he cannot win the battle, but as he tries to go back to the village he comes to realize the ghost stories turned out to be true…


I probably decided to read this story at the wrong moment. The descriptions are actually quite beautifully done and make you feel as though you were visiting the countryside and its people yourself. I liked the many references to the Dutch culture and food and I totally agree with Irving that the desserts are the best part of the Dutch kitchen (and I guess that’s what I miss most after spending various years abroad; hmm stroopwafels). What I don’t understand is that this is supposed to be a horror story. I couldn’t find any truly spooky moments and the Headless Horseman didn’t seem scary at all from the descriptions Irving used. I guess that is mostly what made me feel disappointed with this story, although I still recommend it to those who enjoy beautiful prose of historical value.

18 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow – by Washington Irving

  1. I am so impressed by your review of this, particularly with your honesty about not being in the right mood to read it. I feel the same way a lot, like the book I just finished reading (just writing the review for it now actually) Burial Rites, I felt was a pretty good story just read it in a bad time. I needed more a of a feel good story and that is the absolute opposite!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess that’s why I’m putting off reading certain books I know will be good but need to be read at the right moment… I guess the TV series had me fooled that The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow would be a properly horror read.
      I’m looking forward to Burial Rites as well, but I will be waiting for the right mood as well on your suggestion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know I definitely would have appreciated this novel and its prose way better at a different time… And I will probably reread it in the future just to see if I was right.


  2. Sounds like the perfect read for Halloween. I often have that view of classics, plus they’re hard to understand. I watched the tv show for the first few episode, but just sort of stopped watching it. I of course know the story, but I’ve never read the original. I had to google stroopwafels. hehe. I’ll have to try to make some! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think this novel has anything to do with the TV show… Although I’ve only seen trailers so far, so I cannot compare them properly. It’s nice to read the original story though; there seem to be so many spinoffs…
      And stroopwafels are totally awesome! I’ve never been able to remake them properly here… I love cooking and baking, and I’ve tried, but they don’t turn out the same.


    • I have Frankenstein still on my TBR pile, but I will approach that one with care after my experience with The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. 😉 I really need to check out the TV series!


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