Raising the Horseman

Raising the Horseman
Age Range
Release Date
September 06, 2022
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From the New York Times best-selling author of Disney’s Villains series comes a ghostly new stand-alone novel that reimagines The Legend of Sleepy Hollow through the eyes of a modern teen.

The two-hundredth anniversary of the Headless Horseman's legendary haunting of Sleepy Hollow is approaching, but Kat van Tassel wants nothing to do with the town's superstitious celebrations. As a descendant of the original Katrina van Tassel, Kat knows she’s expected to fulfill her ancestor’s legacy by someday marrying her longtime boyfriend and running the prestigious family estate. But Kat dreams of a life outside Sleepy Hollow.

Then Kat meets Isadora, a new girl in town who challenges Kat to reexamine those expectations, opens her eyes to the possibility that ghosts are real, and makes her question who she truly wants to be . . . and be with.

When Kat is given the original Katrina’s diary, a new legend begins to take shape, one that weaves together the past and the present in eerie ways. Can Kat uncover a two-hundred-year-old secret, and trace its shocking reverberations in her own life, in time to protect what she truly loves?

Fans of Serena Valentino will delight in this supernatural coming-of-age tale that finally gives the women of Sleepy Hollow a chance to tell their side of the story.

Editor review

1 review
overall fun, lightly spooky read
(Updated: September 29, 2022)
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RAISING THE HORSEMAN is an intriguing YA fantasy continuation of the story of Sleepy Hollow. Here, 200 years after the first Katerina van Tassel and Ichibod Crane, Kat van Tassel is growing restless. Her family legacy has been to stay in Sleepy Hollow with the name passed from mother to daughter for generations. This legacy has given Kat mixed feelings, particularly as it is assumed she will marry Blake, her childhood friend who has grown into a troublemaker, and stay right in town.

Kat dreams of going to college and seeing the world, but her world feels so small. Seeing the parallels between her and the original Katrina, Kat's mother gives her Katrina's diary to read and learn the truth of what happened in Sleepy Hollow all those years before. As Kat reads the diary, she begins to see the many connections with her own life, her relationship with Blake, and her new friend, Isadora. As the anniversary looms ever closer, Kat will need to decide who she wants to be and how she will embrace her family's legacy before it is too late.

What I loved: I loved the modern day retelling of Sleepy Hollow with the reincarnations of key characters. The supernatural elements that arise later in the story were also quite fascinating, giving it a light spooky feel that makes it a great fall read. At 18, Kat is still figuring out how to be the person she wants to be and accomplish the things that she desires, weighed against her family's expectations. This is definitely relatable to readers and always a great theme to explore. It was easy to cheer for the romance that began and like both the characters who connected so well and found solace in each other.

Other themes around relationships, gaslighting, betrayal, honesty, and prejudice (particularly against LGBTQ+) were also compelling in the story. These were explored through Kat's story in the modern day, while she finds her footing and begins to connect with her family's past and her own desires for the future.

What left me wanting more: The diary sections were a bit disorienting, as they were written in third person omniscient, such as from the perspective of Katrina's mother going to check on things, thinking things, etc. It did not really feel like a diary. They also rehashed the parts of the story everyone knew with only a twist at the end, and took up about half the story. I would have preferred to stick more with the new material and see the modern day story come to life more. It would have been great to have more of the growing relationship, spooky atmosphere, etc. that made the modern story compelling. As is, it felt like we could not quite get into the modern story enough, and there was not a disconnect between past and present in terms of writing style or tone.

Final verdict: Overall, RAISING THE HORSEMAN was an enjoyable modern, LGBT twist on the story of Sleepy Hollow that could easily be read in a sitting or two. Recommend for a light-hearted spooky fall read.
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