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Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet for Readers' Favorite
Severed by Dax Varley is a rehashing of the horror classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow told from the perspective of Katrina Van Tassel, the 18-year-old daughter of Sleepy Hollow's richest landowner. But Kat has dreams beyond plantation life and marriage to Brom, the Van Tassel's touchy-feely overseer, She is quite the mainstream feminist as she hopes to sail the world and leave all her responsibilities behind.
Soon a new school teacher by the name of Ichabod Crane arrives (he's a replacement for the previous school teacher who was unfortunately dressed and unfortunately beheaded). Kat quickly fall in love with the handsome and progressive Crane but she's not the only one to take an interest in the new arrival. When Sleepy Hollow's grim specter marks Ichabod for death, Kat must using everything in her power to put the Headless Horseman in its grave once and for all. Fast paced (except for when it pauses for a heady touch of romance), Severed is a potent mix of horror and romance that's sure to delight.
Severed is perfect for readers who love young adult horror as well as new spins on old classics. I actually read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow years ago though unfortunately I didn't remember enough to compare Ms. Varley's tale of romantic horror with the original. I'm sure there were many inside jokes that I missed.
Severed is set a few years after the Revolutionary War but it's a historical novel that can easily be mistaken for a modern era as the characters are imbued with all the thoughts, morals, and sensibilities of the 21st century. I almost expected Kat to text her best friend, Elise, instead of using her slave to send notes.