Sleepy Hollow is a particularly apt show to adapt into book form, considering how many possible ways there are to draw parallels between monsters in Abbie’s time and historical semi-fact, semi-fiction in Crane’s period. The show often works with arcs, like it has been doing with season 2’s attempts to bring Purgatory to the little town of Sleepy Hollow; but book tie-ins allow authors to explore mythology that the show otherwise wouldn’t cover. Such is the case with the new series coming from Broadway Books, and the first title in that collection is Children of the Revolution from Keith R. A. DeCandido.
DeCandido’s novel takes place between season 1 episodes “The Golem” and “The Vessel”, and based on my knowledge of those episodes the story fits perfectly within that time period. For one thing, DeCandido makes sure to include specific references to events in those two episodes, as well as bringing back a minor baddy from the season’s episode “Blood Moon.” Fans of Sleepy Hollow will immediately recognize the common characteristics of the story, and very quickly it becomes apparent that DeCandido has done his homework on Ichabod Crane’s voice, because he’s spot on.
From there, the plot of Children of the Revolution is familiar and different at the same time. Again, Crane and Abbie Mills are tasked with stopping Serilda of Abaddon, that ugly witch from “Blood Moon” who, like Moloch, can bring about some seriously nasty voodoo if she steps into this world. And like many of the show’s episodes, an artifact from the past is the key to getting Serilda into the world, and from stopping her from entering it.
The children of the revolution are those that were awarded the fictional Congressional Cross, ten people that Washington deemed fit for this honor. Crane was one of those men, although he never got the chance to accept the award; the others are located in various museums, coincidentally in close proximity to Sleepy Hollow like the Met in NYC and Fort Ticonderoga. DeCandido’s plot revolves around a coven of witches attempting to get their hands on the Congressional Crosses using their magic powers of invisibility and cloaking, and for the first third of Children of the Revolution, he spends quite a bit of time detailing the stealing of each of the Congressional Crosses before the gang realizes they’ve got to stop the witches before they get their hands on the final one.
It’s an elaborate plot that fits right in with Sleepy Hollow‘s maniacal ideas that mesh reality with fake history, and DeCandido infuses the story with truthful historical facts and some exaggeration about real political heroes, George Washington among them. He jumps back in time to Washington crossing the Delaware while stopping the witch from returning to this world, and his research leads him to some pretty cool coincidences.
Children of the Revolution is even able to pull in Jenny and Captain Irving, two minor characters in the first season who work with Abbie and Crane to stop Serilda’s reign. In the final scene, the witches force Crane, Irving, Jenny, and Abbie to see a version of their own heart’s dreams, with everything that they wish would have happened had they not become Witnesses trying to stop Moloch. It’s a great sequence, giving each of these characters added depth because these are things they hope but will never get the chance to experience; DeCandido does the best with Irving, who finds himself in a world where he’s still married and his daughter can still walk. A cruel vision for each of them, no doubt, but one that personally characterizes them in ways we don’t get to see much in the show.
As for the dialogue, there are some minor issues; one of Serilda’s followers in particular has an annoying way of speaking where she slangs nearly everything she says. Some conversations are forced between characters like Jenny and Irving, two people who often don’t talk with each other in the show. But DeCandido has Abbie’s and Crane’s voices down well, and his prose moves along swiftly with a solid plot.
Overall, Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution is a first novel for this tie-in series, with a lot of that historical context that the show loves to throw around. One minor gripe about this outing is that much of it is not set in Sleepy Hollow, and it also rehashes some of “Blood Moon”‘s ideas. Ultimately, though, it’s nice to see Sleepy Hollow getting the same treatment as Grimm and Doctor Who for media tie-ins, and if you’re a fan of the show, DeCandido’s book is very close to watching another episode in the series.