Posted in Historical Fiction

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Trigger Warning: Decapitation

Plot Summary:

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all (Goodreads, 2018).


Things I Enjoyed: One of the things I always enjoyed about a good historical fiction book is how it is able to bring a particular period to life. Alyssa Palombo definitely succeeded in this regard when it came to The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. I truly felt like I was transported to the town of Sleepy Hollow post American Revolution. Having recently visited the town I loved the book’s references to certain landmarks that are still standing there as well as references to significant events in early American history.

In terms of the plot itself, I found myself hooked beginning to end. Alyssa Palombo makes the reader so attached to Katrina and Ichabod that it becomes impossible to not feel as invested as Katrina in finding out what really happened to him.

Lastly, I enjoyed the sisterhood between Katrina, Charlotte and Nancy. In a way, with some of the semi supernatural aspects of this book, the three made up their own coven. In a time when women were second class citizens, love and friendship bound those three together and they work together to protect one another.

Overall Thoughts: I highly recommend this book to all my fellow history/historical fiction lovers. The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel re-imagines the legend of Sleepy Hollow and gives a great glimpse into the lives of women in America shortly after the Revolutionary War. The haunted atmosphere makes it a perfect read for fall/Halloween. At the same time any dark elements never make it to horror movie levels, which was perfect for scaredy cats like me. This was a 5 out of 5 star read for me.

Quotes I Enjoyed:

I was desperate to read on…But if I read too fast, soon it would be over and I would never get to experience it for the first again”

For all my skepticism I knew that stories always held some truth. Else why did we tell them?

It would be a book of truths, stories and spells. For are not truths, stories and spells all the same thing in the end”