Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, December 01, 2014

Let Sleepy Hollow awaken you to some revolutionary reading

One of my favorite fantasy shows to watch lately has been Sleepy Hollow, which blends in humor and historical fiction along with the supernatural plot points to make for an engaging hour of entertainment.

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.

 The medal in question is one of several, called Congressional(or Independence) Crosses, that are currently being stolen from museums and historical sites. These robberies are also leaving a trail of strangely executed bodies in their wake.

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 have to admit that waiting for new Sleepy Hollow episodes will be tough but at least they're worth it. One way to make the time pass by quicker is by finding other American Revolutionary war dramas to explore both in print and on film.

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:


Thaddeus said...

I have been less enamored of the show this season, mostly because it feels like a lot of dialogue gets repeated, and Hawley kind of sucks, and Katrina has less....

She's less interesting and her choices, though made of her own will, seem to somehow express agency than she had in S1.

However, the show should generate more interest in Revolution-era stories and events. And I love that there's a free audio story which Tom Nixon personally narrated...

Thaddeus said...

Great review! I recall seeing this in the theater, and being quite excited for it! At this point, I'd seen every film in both franchises at least twice. But my reaction to the finished work was less enthused than yours.

In part, I think I was let down because it begins well enough. I was happy with the opening sequence, the fact that the story began asap, and the nice touches of the town's secret as well as the kids being proactive.

But I felt disappointed that the characters were more generic than they were in even some of the lower-budgeted efforts in the Ft13 series. And I wanted something that made me feel as worried/tense/scared as some of the ANoES movies did. It also, as you noted, didn't do as much with the tough heroine as prior Nightmare films had.

I might've ignored all that, but when Freddy and Jason have that first fight, Freddy terrifies Jason by using a small waterfall. And the point where they retcon Jason as being scared of water showed no familiarity with the character. Sure, he died from drowning, but Jason attacks or rises from the water in like every film!

So FvJ picked things up a little in the last third. There was nicely staged action, and I didn't mind that it didn't feel anything like the action either franchise had used before. And some of the drwleam sequences showed some smarts and humor (the Crystal Lake one, especially). And then I got all pissed off again because they wouldn't lerone character "win." The fact that they felt the need to make it a draw was annoying to me. And it ignored the fact that these franchises never needed to plant the seed for a sequel, because they would worry about that later.

Out of love for you, I'll try to watch the movie again and see if I like it better. I get the feeling it would've been fun to watch with friends at home, instead of racing out to see it.

Or maybe my reaction was more harsh because this was the same time I was being let down by Matrix 2 and Attack of the Clones. It was a dark time for me and theater visits...

lady t said...

I know a lot of people are feeling the sophomore slump when it comes to Sleepy Hollow but I still have faith in it.

Hawley is a weak addition to the mix and Katrina needs to get a grip on just how evil her boy is but the winter finale was good enough that I will tune in next year for more.

Glad to hear your thoughts on FVJ as well-the retcon on Jason, even a casual fan knows that such water fear doesn't really hold water there. Nevertheless, it is fun and best seen with others.

Not surprised that they didn't chose a "winner", it would just make one fan base happier than the other. The Flash/Arrow crossover this week let both good guys get the upper hand yet still be friends(really liking The Flash but need to catch up S2 of Arrow here). Back to SH, Didn't know about free audio story, must try and check it out!

Oh,btw, I'm on Twitter now, so you're there as well, my handle is @deathadderdiva. Feel free to say hi!