author: Jessica Verday
length: 528 pages
In keeping with the spirit of Halloween, I decided to continue discussing the darker side of YA. The Hollow by Jessica Verday begins with 16 year-old Alley attending her best friend Kristen’s funeral in the quaint setting of Sleepy Hollow. There is no body and the town whispers that Kristen committed suicide. Alley knows Kristen would never kill herself and is determined to find out what happened to her. As Alley navigates high school without her best friend, she relies on her fragrance making hobby to occupy her free time until she meets Caspian. An aloof boy with shockingly white hair with one streak of black, Caspian is at once alluring and mysterious. Abbey falls for Caspian and tries to learn more about him during their furtive meetings in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. On a visit to try and cheer up Kristen’s parents, Alley discovers her friend’s secret diary and everything changes. Kristen had a secret and Alley begins to question just how well she knew her friend. While attempting to unravel this new twist in Kristen’s story, Alley discovers Caspian’s real identity and her world tilts on its axis. These two secrets challenge Alley’s new love for Caspian and threaten to loosen her grip on sanity.
With another supernatural romance, Verday’s first installment in this trilogy seems promising, however the story lags. The book is lengthy and it is an effort to stick with it until the end with such time between story developments. The connection to Sleepy Hollow could be a key element but aside from quotes from the story opening each chapter and Alley’s admission that she’s “obsessed” with Irving’s story, there doesn’t appear to be a true connection to the famous tale until the very end of the book. The writing is bland and many of the characters seem one-dimensional.
BRIDGE: I wouldn’t use this book for a class assignment other than, perhaps, to use the summary of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” before reading the actual text. The book provides a fairly succinct and effective summary given through Alley. While it does contain some gothic elements, it would not be effective as a whole class read due to its length and lack of consistent action.
READERS: This WOULD be a good book for the readers interested in the paranormal genre that has become so popular. Once they’ve finished with Twilight and Vampire Diaries and are looking for something new, this could fill that need. The length will deter reluctant readers whereas the lack of effective pacing will frustrate more experienced readers.
OTHER TITLES: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb, Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, or Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzgerald