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.

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.