Horseman by Christina Henry – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror, Fantasy

Pages: 320 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:
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?


I’ve had decent luck with Christina Henry’s other titles, so I was really quite excited to see that she was writing a Sleepy Hollow retelling. It was ultra creepy, not at all what I expected, and a really refreshing take on the tale. 

Horseman takes place two decades after the events of the original Headless Horseman tale and stars Ben van Brunt, grandchild of Brom and Katrina. Ben’s parents died when Ben was just a babe, supposedly of a fever. This is the generally accepted story, but it becomes clear something suspicious is afoot when a child’s body, missing head and hands, is discovered in the woods. The reaction of certain adults who were around the first time this happened is a dead giveaway that not all is as it seems. Something dangerous is in the woods, and it has a hunger that only hands (and a head) can satisfy. Ben is determined to investigate this mystery, but between the spine tingling presence in the woods, and the ghostly drumming of a horse’s hooves it’s quite a terrifying thought.

I loved the first ~85% of the book. There was a creeping dread that really fit the tale well, I loved Ben, Brom, and Katrina, and the little reveals of what actually happened during the original Headless Horseman tale were great. The dead bodies devoid of head and hands were absolutely ghastly and the thing eating them was honestly way creepier than it had any right to be. It was fantastic! And then the book jumped forward in time and I didn’t care for that portion all that much. It yanked me out of the story and while I can understand why it was executed that way, I was a little let down by the ending. The creeping dread was gone and only sadness remained. 

Overall, this was a really good story with plenty of creep factor. I love reading spooky retellings as Halloween gets ever closer and Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorites! The landing didn’t quite stick (for me) but I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a good Sleepy Hollow retelling.

Stacking the Shelves: 7/17/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

Blood of the Chosen by Django Wexler
Slowly but surely I’m acquiring exciting physical ARCs! I’m really looking forward to this sequel and don’t you just love that cover?? Thanks to Orbit for sending this!

Horseman by Christina Henry
A very exciting spooky read! The cover is fabulous and I’m thinking a Sleepy Hollow story is just what I need on my TBR. Thanks to Berkley for the eARC.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Herman
This is one of my most antcipated YA releases for 2021. I’m totally digging the books with villainous MCs. This is supposed to be a tournament to the death for control of a city’s magic supply. Thanks to Tor Teen for the eARC!

The Starless Crown by James Rollins
I’ve enjoyed Rollins’ thrillers in the past and I’m SO CURIOUS to see how he executes a fantasy novel! A student, a soldier, a thief, and a prince must all come together to claim the Starless Crown. Thanks to Tor Books for the eARC.

The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse
The publisher reached out and offered an eARC of this one, which I’ve had on my radar for a little while now. Decided to go ahead and grab a copy since the early reviews are so good!

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
OMG!!!! I have no self control and read the right after getting approved for it on NetGalley! It is a stellar sequel with one HELL of a cliffhanger ending! Many thanks to Del Rey for the eARC.

My Purchases:

Hooray! My copy of Nolyn by Michael J. Sullivan has finally arrived! I back the Kickstarter and thus got it before it’s release to the general public – can’t wait to check it out. I also picked up a hardcover copy of A Deadly Education since I loved it and the sequel immensely. And we’ve got a lovely plant guide — Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast

As always, I picked up a few more audiobooks since the last haul as well. I finished up the Clocktaur War duology with The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher. I decided I needed to re-read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch since it’s been awhile and dang, the audio narration is on point. I also snagged Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Mellow which is supposed to be a really good fantasy romance. 

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry – Review

Cover- The Girl in Red

Published: June 18, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems.

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods….


If The Road and Little Red Riding Hood had a love child, it would certainly be The Girl in Red by Christina Henry. This book is full of the darkness of The Road but without quite so much dire hopelessness and just a dash of fairytale inspiration. 

Cordelia, who thinks her name is fusty and so goes by Red, is first introduced to us as she trudges through the woods to her grandmother’s house. It’s dangerous for a girl alone, and more so because she has a prosthetic leg that will slow her down if she needs to run. She’s a tough girl, knows her limitations, and generally expects the worst of the people she runs in to because the world’s really spiralled out of control since the Cough struck. Her family is gone now and she’s going to the only sanctuary she has left – her grandmother’s house hundreds of miles and many dangers away.

This was a compelling story, that evokes a unique sense of horror. I’m always thoroughly disturbed by stories of an apocalyptic nature and the fact that a mysterious pandemic could strike is not unreasonable. An element of government conspiracy gets thrown in for good measure and while surprising, wasn’t my favorite part. The story is told by alternating between past and present. Presently, Red is trudging through the woods, conserving food and strength. In the past we learn of her family and what happened to them leading up to the current moments.

I was suitably impressed by The Girl in Red and thus far I’m 2/2 for enjoying Christina Henry’s tales. This was a quick read that I finished over the course of a weekend and after I was done I definitely needed something a little lighter on the horror aspect. It was scary enough, though not so much that it kept me up at night or made me feel like I needed to ninja my shower curtain everytime I went into the bathroom.

Currently Reading: 6/10/19

Cover- The Girl in Red

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

This book sounds absolutely awesome and I kind of get a post-apocalyptic fairytale vibe from the synopsis. I’ve enjoyed other books by this author and I predict that I’ll like this one at least as much. It’s also a shorter book, coming in at just over 300 pages.

 

 

 

Cover- Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Magical. Libraries. That was all I needed to know about this book before I added it to my TBR and forgot about it for a few months. It was just released last week, which was great timing for me because I needed a new audiobook to listen to during my brain free time (driving, cleaning, minecrafting, etc.).

The Mermaid by Christina Henry – Review

Cover- The Mermaid

Published: June 19, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 336 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn’t bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he’s determined to hold on to his mermaid.


The Mermaid was a lovely book that basically just made me hate P.T. Barnum. He was such an inconsiderate, money-hungry turd and I felt bad for his associates, his family, and Amelia who became his resident mermaid. That aside, I think the first paragraph of the synopsis is enough to catch a potential reader’s attention. Plus, don’t you want to know why this book made me dislike Barnum so much?

The Mermaid was a really good book and the beginning was really touching. I loved that a mermaid came out of the ocean for curiosity and loneliness and actually fell in love and had a good experience. Her fisherman husband loved the sea just as much as she did and even the villagers protected her fiercely from prying outsiders. It was WHOLESOME. Then Barnum hears rumor of a mermaid along the coast of Maine and sends his rep to bring her back to New York City. Amelia goes of her own accord so she can have money to travel the world and see what the land has to offer and Barnum, being the desperate businessman that he is, tries to manipulate her at every opportunity. But Amelia pushes back and she has her own allies (Barnum’s wife included) and her own mind.

I liked getting both Amelia’s and Levi’s (Barnum’s legal assistant, procurement guy) POV. It was nice to see that Levi was sticking up for Amelia and it was a good way to show Levi’s feelings for Amelia. Much better than having it from only Amelia’s side of things. I also really enjoyed the ending of this book as it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.

Overall, I’d say this book is worth giving a go, especially if mermaids are your mythical thing. I haven’t read any of Christina Henry’s other books, but they seem to have been well received by the general bookish community. I probably will forgo reading her other books, especially since I’ve never cared for Alice in Wonderland and would doubtless not appreciate a retelling nearly as much as I should.

Stacking the Shelves: 6/9/18

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


20180608_205147

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

Can it just be stated that I was rather surprised when my request for this was granted? Such an excellent surprise! If you’re a regular here, you already know my feelings on MJS’s books, so no need to repeat again. Thanks uber-much Del Rey!

The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan

The grand conclusion folks! I still haven’t decided if I’m rooting for the humans, the dragons, or the lizard people… The cover indicates some epic dragon battles and I couldn’t be more thrilled to find out how this wraps up. Thanks to Ace for the finished copy, which will looks absolutely dashing on my shelves.

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

I so hope this book is as amazing as I hope it will be. It features gladiatorial combat and whenever a book has the arena style thing going on I turn into a blood-thirsty Roman patrician screaming from the seats of the Colosseum. Bonus points for it being space-gladiators in this one. Thanks to DAW for the finished copy.

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

I loved the first three books in this series so I’m hoping that the extension on this series will pan out well. I’m sure things are going to get wild in this book and I can’t wait to see if the Great Library of Alexandria will end up burning to ash at last. Thanks to Berkley for the finished copy.

20180608_205428

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

I’ll be honest… I don’t remember if I requested this book or not. Either way, it sounds pretty interesting and I’ve never read a Seanan McGuire book (though I’ve read books under her pen names). It’s the story of a hitch-hiker ghost which seems cool. Thanks to DAW for this one.

Redemptions Blade: After the War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I’ve read (well, listened to) two of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s books this year and enjoyed both. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy from Solaris and jumped on it! Thanks for posting this all the way from the UK, Solaris!

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

This is another author I’ve heard praised pretty frequently, so I decided this was a good book to start with. I devoured this book in a couple days and will post a review eventuallY! Thanks to Berkley for the lovely finished copy!

20180608_205644

After spending some time browsing around Books-A-Million I picked up Tower of Dawn and One Blood Ruby from their discount section. I had to keep my SJMaas collection up to date, especially since this installment is one of the best in the series. The other book has fairies, so yeah. I bought it and intend to read this series when there’s a slower book release month.

I also picked up this awesome new National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America. It has good quality pictures of bark, leaves, flowers, etc and it’s a decent size to haul around in a hiking bag.

I also picked up a few new audiobooks. Children of Time and Jane Steele were great and I”ll be posting reviews at some point in the future (been kind of slow lately). Warlock Holmes is weird and funny and a nice tribute to the Sherlock Holmes legacy.

Lastly, I have sort of an honorable mention. The pre-order for Golden Son cam up on Subterranean Press AT LONG LAST and you better believe I pre-ordered that sucker. It’s even more beautiful than the first one and it’s not sold out yet if you’re interested!