Severed: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow by Dax Varley

Received from NetGalley for review.

Some books are like chewing tinfoil, or glass. Not because they’re that bad or anything (I wouldn’t advise eating glass, though), but because they just don’t work for you on nearly every level. That’s how I felt whilst trudging through Severed. It’s not badly written at all and I can easily see why some people like it, it just didn’t work for me. I don’t like books that feel like a chore to read and sadly this one did.

Plot: The Headless Horseman. Sleepy Hollow. A reign of destruction. Ichabod Crane. You know the drill. Most people know the story, since its original publication there have been many versions of the story in both print and performance (the film with Johnny Depp is the only one I have paid particular attention to). I’m not sure (because I can’t really be bothered to investigate) how much it differs from all these versions, but I get the impression Ichabod is quite different and the leading lady, Katrina, brings a new dimension (ironic in a dimensionless character) to it.

Setting: Sleepy Hollow. Late 18th century. Puritanical. Generally backwards and sexist. Despite the setting, the narrative style just didn’t feel authentic; there was a weird Queen’s English vibe to it, which for English settlers in America would be the case, I’m sure, but I can’t take someone saying ‘make haste!’ to their horse seriously.

Characters: Katrina – SO BORING. I have never met such a boring protagonist, and she should have been interesting in a crush-the-patriarchy-and-disobey-your-father kind of way at least, but no. She is boring, bland, simpering and a completely flat character. Also, insta-love. Ick.

Ichabod – le sigh. 18th century dreamboat, apparently. I have to give him credit; he was a genuinely interesting character with an actual personality. He was just a lot of fun to read AND he wants to teach slave children, so not all that bad.

Brom – sexist, borderline abusive pig. I get we’re in the 18th century and everything was different back then but that’s not going to make the way he treats Katrina okay, and I’m still going to be pissed about it.

Headless Horseman – not scary at all. Disappointing.

Everyone else – urgh. I didn’t really like anyone except Ichabod. Too backward, too boring, too wet. I just didn’t care about anyone, and I wouldn’t have been upset if the Headless Horseman has beheaded them all.

Read: April 15th-19th 2015

2/5 stars


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