With the second season "fall finale" airing tonight( or in other words, taking a holiday break), it felt fitting to review the series' first tie-in novel entitled Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution, which I received courtesy of the good folks at Blogging for Books.
Written by Keith R. A. DeCandido, the story takes place during Season One in between two episodes, as Ichabod gets a magical message from an imprisoned in purgatory Katrina regarding phases of the moon and the need to claim a medal awarded to him posthumously.
As Ichabod and Abbie gather their forces to figure this out, an ally of their friend Captain Frank Irving may know more than she's letting on as the clues point to an ancient coven devoted to the witch Serilda(who Ichabod and Abbie vanquished earlier on) that wants to bring back their mistress using a ritual that requires the crosses and without help from the demon Moloch.
I know that tie-in novels to either TV or film usually get a bad rap but this was the exception to that rule big time. The story not only captures the flavor of the TV show, it also allows for some nice back story moments for the supporting players such as Frank taking his daughter on a field trip and Abbie's sister Jenny getting a glimpse of what her life could've been like if not for that fateful day in the woods.
The writing here is solid and so good that I wish this had been an actual episode on Sleepy Hollow but this book does offer both new fans and old something to keep their wits warm during this upcoming hiatus. The witchcraft elements of the story are well strung together and do make you wish that Serilda could make a return appearance at some point(who knows, maybe she will!):
Sleepy Hollow this season had a mention of Benedict Arnold, which drew me to borrow a copy of The Traitor's Wife by Alison Pataki from my Booksfree account. Yes, Alison is the daughter of former NYS governor George Pataki and she's written a pretty entertaining debut here.
The wife of the title is Peggy Shippen, the spoiled rich daughter of a judge in Philadelphia during the 1700s, whose family is not taking an official side in the ongoing war between the Colonies and England. Peggy uses her flirtatious charms with everyone, including a certain Major Andre, to become the local belle of every ball.
However, her social reign is threatened as the British officers are forced to flee town and life is sharply changed as George Washington's forces is taking over. Peggy decides to have Benedict Arnold court her, given that he can provide her with the lavish lifestyle she prefers to have.
After they're married, Arnold is called forth to court upon charges of misappropriation of funds(for which he's given an official reprimand from Washington himself). This impacts the family finances considerably, especially since Peggy is expecting their first child.
With Benedict already peeved about not being paid back for providing funds for his troops from the new government, he is more than willing to listen to his bride's suggestions about making a secret deal with the British. Those plans also just happen to involve her former romantic partner John Andre.
The story is told through the viewpoint of Clara Bell, a young house maid who follows Peggy into her new married life and is secretly in love with a young man enlisted in Washington's army. Clara is unhappy with her mistress's schemes and longs to find a way to stop them without risking her own future. Yet, it is hard to take such a stand as most of her contemporaries insist upon letting the Arnolds go about their affairs as servants are meant to been seen little and heard even less.
The Upstairs/Downstairs elements of the story are nicely done and while Ms. Pataki does plays a little fast and loose with some of the details(which she freely admits to in the afterword), those changes are mainly due to condensing some of the action. In reality, Peggy did play a Lady Macbeth role in her husband's treason, something that came to light long after her lifetime and this novel does offer a fresh new look into that historical scandal that is quite the patriotic page turner:
I might check out AMC's Turn:Washington's Spies during the break, if I can. Funny how such a subject that once seemed to be the dull stuff of school room lectures and songs is now an exciting arena for new stories to come alive in. History does repeat itself but sometimes, that's not a bad thing: