Remembering how a story goes. That’s one of a book’s functions, particularly if a tale’s complex. Running a season behind, I was one of those enamored of Sleepy Hollow when it first aired from 2013 through 2017. In fact, that was the first story that I tried to explore, somewhat academically, in the horror genre. At the time I hadn’t realized how many spin-off media had come out, based on these new characters. I recently read The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane in which Alex Irvine provides the service of summarizing the first season through the conceit of the main character’s secret diary. It has to be secret because in the series he’s never shown keeping a journal, and the title explains why we’re just finding out about this now. (Or then, since it was published while the series was still on the air.)
Reading it reminded me of just how complex the plot was. I suspect that’s one reason so many people were taken with it. Week-to-week you weren’t sure where it was going. And the plot integrated religious themes from the first episode on. That’s what first drew me to my current research trajectory. The show wasn’t perfect, and some plot elements grew tired after a while, but overall it was compelling. Mixed with the natural comedy of someone from centuries past trying to learn how to get along in a rapidly technologizing world provided light moments amid the death and bloodshed. And, of course, the pairing of the patrician but progressive white man with a young black professional in the fight against evil was novel and necessary.
Irvine’s book is rather like the novelization of a movie. In terms of hours, however, a television series outstrips the maybe two hours of a typical film. A lot has to be left out, including scenes in which Crane wasn’t present, although he was pretty steadily in the camera’s gaze. Initially suspected as a criminal, he had to be kept under pretty close watch, so his was a good perspective for a journal. Its secrecy continues the trope of hidden documents that ran throughout the series. Another aspect was that it addressed the Hamilton era when that show was becoming immensely popular. And Sleepy Hollow was quite literary, with references to books from early writers. There was a lot to like about the show. It burned itself out in four seasons, though, and after season two there would seem to be little need for any further secret journals as the story grew even more complex. This one, however, is a good reminder of how the story goes.