Book review: “Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution” by Keith R.A. DeCandido


Sleepy Hollow: Children of the RevolutionSleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Adaptations hardly ever do the source material justice. In fact, they often do just the opposite. They bomb. They are truly awful. Video game adaptations of film and televisions suck. Film adaptations of video usually bomb as well— Truly bad.

Books are not exempt from this unwritten rule, either. More often than not, novelizations of films and televisions are usually half-assed…they’re easy ways for publishers and TV shows to make a quick buck. Hardcore fans love ‘em, because they fill in on the lore of their favorite media properties but they lack in the quality department. Ultimately, they usually end up in a bargain bin somewhere dusting away.

“Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution” by Keith R.A. DeCandido is one of the few exceptions and counter-examples to the aforementioned rule. It reads well. From a technical standpoint it reads akin to that of a script from the television show. Most of the scenes are expressed in third-person via Ichabod Crane, and the plot line closely follows Crane and his partner Abbie’s exploits in modern day Sleepy Hollow.

One of the largest complaints that I usually have with book adaptations is their bare bones quality. They’re oft difficult to read. The writing is either done poorly because of time constraints (or a less-than experienced author), and the meat-and-potatoes of the novel suffers making it almost unreadable. DeCandidio has knowledge of the craft. Whether he was in a time crunch (or not) he pulls it off, and if you’ve ever read any decent third-person, supernatural themed novel then you’ll enjoy “Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution.” Its construction is solid.

Plot-wise it places in the midst of the first season— Right between the episodes, The Golem and The Vessel. The catalyst of the novel stems from a vision that Crane receives from his wife, Katrina, concerning medals bestowed by George Washington during the Revolutionary days. Moloch and his minions want the powerful relics for evil, thus the witnesses (Crane and Abbie) need to thwart them to further their objective of saving humanity. It follows the rough formula of each episode of the series, but it cuts nicely between two episodes to bring readers a little more information and insight into the characters and overall arc of the series.

All-in-all, “Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution” is a good read. It is solid in its own right as a supernatural thriller, and it pays fan service nicely to the acclaimed television series. It is definitely worth the gander.

For more information regarding the Sleepy Hollow television show and related media check out ARSchultz’s website (ARSchultz.com) and Facebook page. And, don’t forget to check out the sure-to-be amazing premiere of Sleepy Hollow season 2 tonight on FOX.

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Jack and the Lilac Butcher, Part II


Spokane 

Jack awoke with a sudden heart-gripping jolt; his head was aching and his esophagus was scratchy like sandpaper.  He clumsily searched for the bedside lamp switch.  He lay naked, atop the covers, merely thinking.  He finally found the light and it slowly flickered to life.  The hotel was one of the nicest Jack had ever stayed at, which was proven by the comfortable warmth of the room.  Jack lay there for another couple of minutes letting the light wash over and his eyes to adjust till he finally sat to the edge of the mattress.  He got up and made his way to the washroom where he promptly grabbed a cup of water to quench his parched throat.  He tilted the glass at an angle with a slight of his wrist to look at the etched glass and the clear, crisp water.

“Certainly looks half empty to me,” Jack chuckled.

He stared into the mirror.  He was scruffy.  His brown hair was cropped short, but his face was covered in stubble.  He was taller then most men and was firmly built.  He had been a decent boxer in the military and had kept up the habits after he was out.  It showed in the mirror, but with a suit it was difficult to tell.  His brown eyes were the color of a Greek coffee; they were darker than most and spotted with black flecks.

“Still look like shit though,” he muttered to himself as he placed his glass back onto the sink ledge.

He’d shave in the morning he thought, and at that note he sauntered back to his bed and in exhaustion collapsed into it.  His body was tired, but his mind was still whirling.  Some included the trials of the past day others were much older and much more heart wrenching.  He was analyzing, contemplating, and planning for every eventuality whether Jack wanted to or not.  He finally fell asleep early in the morning, but tossed and turned as nightmares visited him. 

The Butcher lay there contemplating.  It was late and the smell of decay clung around him like a cologne.  He hated where he lived, but it was cheap and no one ever came looking for him.  He lay in bed pondering and toying with an innumerable amount of possibilities concerning the most trivial of circumstances.  He joyously went over all of the little details from the other evening.  How warm he felt on the inside, how the air bristled against the hair on his arms, the way his heart pounded when he crossed the threshold in her room, the way her lips and hot breath felt against the palm of his hand when he held her.

He lay there blinking for several minutes grinning to himself in the darkness before he finally got up.  Stark naked and alone in his greased up little shit stain of a shack he made his way to the washroom.  Even with the windows closed he could still smell the green river as if it where running right through his room.

He grabbed a dirty glass of water and looked at it intensely before chuckling to himself, “Looks half full to me.”   The killer looked at himself in the mirror.  He was scruffy, but handsome.  Plain features, but a nice square jaw and emerald colored eyes that almost matched the river outside.  He was about six feet tall and carried himself with confidence.  Muscularly built he could have been a boxer if he had been trained right.

The structure of the sport probably would have saved him to, but he personally didn’t believe in that religious, savoir complex bullshit that seemed to hang around the aristocratic like a dust cloud of pretension.  They were always the ones to sponsor and ogle the sport in the name of ‘structure’ and teamwork.  If it wasn’t them it was the God damn military brats; the killer’s hatred for those pricks stemmed almost as deep as his hatred for wealthy women.  The list of people he loathed was long, but carefully prioritized and catalogued and even in its irony it made him happy to think about.

Before heading back to bed he looked at his reflection in the cracked, warped mirror he said, “Not half bad,” and then sleepily shuffled back to bed where he promptly shut his mind up and fell into a slumber filled with what most men would call nightmares, but what the Butcher called pleasant dreams.

7am 

“How’d ya sleep?”

“Horrible,” replied a sleep deprived Jack.

“Wanna a drink?” said Ryan.

“At seven in the morning…,” Jack hesitated and thought for a quick moment, “…nah.”

“So what will be lookin’ at first, this morning, the body? The scene? The police house?  All of the above?”

“I figure we’ll hit the morgue first and then will head on over to the crime scene.”

“Sounds good,” replied Ryan through a mouthful of muffin.

8:30am 

Jack and Ryan sauntered into the little shit-in-the-hole that Spokane called their morgue.  It was grimy, wreaked of death, and was dimly lit.  Ryan had seen ‘A Symphony of Horror’ recently and this place reminded him of Orlok’s castle in Bremen -In other words, not pleasant-.  Jack showed the receptionist their credentials and she let them pass without even a nod.

“We’d probably be able waltz in here with a fuckin’ grocery list as an ID,” Jack whispered.

Ryan snickered.  At that they reached the end of the hallway and passed through a pair of doors loosely hanging upon their hinges.  As soon as they passed the threshold they both realized that the doors where more for keeping the odor at bay and not for security.  Their nostrils where bombarded with the smell of decay and rot.  An old man by the name of Herbert skulked out the shadows to greet them.

“How are you this fine evening?” Herbert asked?

“Good, considering it’s almost 9am,” Jack replied.

Again, Ryan snickered at the sarcasm; Herbert was oblivious.

“Can we have a look at the body found in the Browne’s manor?”

“Of course, of course.”

Herbert led them through another archway; this one covered by plastic strips, and into a smaller, more foul smelling room than the last.

“Here she is.  Pretty little thing, isn’t she?”

Ryan felt tingles spike across as skin as the man spoke.  The hair on his arm was standing at attention.  Neither Jack nor Ryan replied to Herbert’s inquiry, but proceeded to take a closer look at the body.

Her face was intact, but from the throat down her body was mangled.  She was chopped and butchered beyond recognition.  Her hair was ash blonde, she was in her mid-thirties by the look of it, and according to Herbert she had been sexually assaulted post mortem.  Her skin was pulverized and it was difficult to tell what was flesh.  She had obviously been stabbed multiple times by a long blade but other than that it was hard to tell what was a wound and what wasn’t.

Ryan was getting a sick feeling in his stomach.  Between the way Herbert stood off to the side smiling, the smell, and the horrendousness of the body Ryan needed to step out for a moment.  As Jack continued to look over the body and scribble down notes upon his vellum pad Ryan stepped outside to take a breather.  Once he was outside he lit up a cigarette and glanced at the baseball card that came with the pack.  It was no Honus Wagner, but still better than those cheap caramel cards.  Jack followed suit a couple minutes later and lit up as well.

“So what do you think?” said Jack.

“I think Herbert’s a fuckin’ sicko is what I think.”

“I mean about the woman,” as Jack exhaled.

“I think who ever cut her up is a twisted son of a bitch and he should be put down.  I’ve never seen someone so tore up before.  And, to be fucked afterwards…takes a real kind of evil to do that,” Ryan said.

“I agree,” stated Jack simply, “Where do we proceed?”

“I think that we should go to the crime scene.  We should scout out for anything left behind that the locals might have overlooked.  Maybe interview a couple of the neighbors and see if anything unusual crops up.”

“Perfect I was hoping you’d say that,” Jack grinned, “I like a good feather rufflin’”