Thursday’s Tale: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington IrvingThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Narrator: Tom Mison
Published by Audible Studios on September 9, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Classic, Short Story
Length: 1 hr 15 mins
Format: Audiobook
Purchase at or Audible
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In the secluded Dutch territory of Sleepy Hollow, nebbish schoolmaster Ichabod Crane competes with the town hero for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, the 18-year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. As Crane leaves a party at the Van Tassel's farm one autumn evening, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, an apparition said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper snuffed out by a stray cannonball.

I know “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is not actually a folk tale, but it has become so familiar to us, so much a part of our culture, that I think it still fits in my rather loose Thursday Tales collection. I’ve read the story of the schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane several times and I love the descriptions of the area and the locals. It really sets the stage for the story.

They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequesntly see strange sights and hear music and voices in  the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit however that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head.

Crane listen to  all the stories, absorbed, delighting in the chills they send down his spine. The story ends, as we know, with Crane fleeing down the road on an old horse, pursued by “The Headless Horseman,” but maybe it wasn’t a ghost after all. While the whole story has touches of the creepy and ghostly, it’s not really scary. It’s atmospheric and I can picture how Crane, after hearing the stories would feel nervous at every little sound when walking home in the evening.

The version I listened to this time around was free on Audible. It’s narrated by Tom Mison, the actor who plays Crane in the current Fox series. His voice is perfect for the story, even though I don’t watch the show. I didn’t find it an easy listen though. It’s lovely writing, but slow moving and full of descriptions and kind of lulled me into not listening. I’d have to refocus on the story every so often.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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