Review, Teaser & Excerpt: Crane-Stacey Rourke

The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.

Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.

But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?
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4/5 Stars
Crane is a dark and sinister read on par with the classic. The story is fused with wicked curses, haunting love, and an evil that exists outside of time. Crane is a fast-paced thrill ride, full of mystery and suspicion that will leave you on the edge of your seat unsure of Ireland’s fate and even more uncertain of whether or not anyone can be trusted. Fans of both the original Sleepy Hollow legend and the Sleepy Hollow tv series will thoroughly enjoy this 🙂
  • Crane is a unique and unexpected play on the classic, one that you do not see coming. The back story is so surprising that it changes your whole perspective of the Sleepy Hollow legend.
  • Ireland is in need of a fresh start, she aims to become a powerful, confident, and content young woman without the crutch of a man and who can move on from her ex. Ireland is honest, she’s completely straightforward and tells it like it is. Her lines are colorful, full of popping sarcastic energy and life. She’s unafraid to speak her mind in the most blunt and shocking terms, it’s hilarious. Her playful personality seems at odds with her fate and it’s through these trials that she’s able to fully come to terms with the fact that she’s a fierce and compelling woman with the skills to do some serious damage.
  • Sleepy Hollow as a place full of a twisted past and lines of descendents that go back to the Irving story makes the whole town feel destined for tragedy and slaughter. The sudden arrival of a Crane doesn’t bode well and the founders know it. The curse, though like an urban legend or campfire story is still on the people’s minds. Those blood pumpkins are HORRIFYING and creative, putting dashes on witchcraft and magic throughout and in a subtle way.
  • Noah is a flirty, charming, sexy piece of man candy. He’s built on coy lines and sarcasm. The man is a catch. He’s constantly there with his muscles and a smile, chatting up Ireland and coaxing her into fun situations. Noah is persistent, he goes after Ireland and he won’t let up, oozing sex appeal and naughty thoughts that Ireland can’t keep fighting.
  • The undesired effect of the sugarskull will make me rethink future tattoos, lest there by some freaky centuries old curse on my head.
  • Gore, blood, and all the murder details were graphic and wonderfully written. The action scenes had a majestic, witchy quality that spoke of possession and the battle for control.
  • The tension throughout the story, wondering who the horseman is and what the end game will turn out to be adds a layer of heavy paranoia and sense of being watched.
  • The interactions with the horseman, the way he whispers and persuades in the mind is all sorts of terrifying and skeevy. The sheer rage and hostility in every urge is beyond frightening and yet, made light of near the end with the music suggestions. Way to tame the beast, turn up the crappy music.
  • Rip might be my favorite narcoleptic. The man is seedy, quirky, and full of these little quips. Rip brings a unique spin to the plot as Ireland’s keeper and advisor but his inability to handle stress is really laughable, especially because it debilitates him. The trivial pursuit scene was a weird mix of creepy perv and whacked out grandpa. You don’t know what to make of Rip, despite his sneaky, stalker-like tendencies and past depravity his by far one of the most interesting characters.
  • Some of the flashbacks to the past were a little confusing. The way Irving, Crane, and co. interchanged names to avoid seedy reputations made it so you kind of had to double-check who it was really referring to.
  • The cops and principal were nowhere near hard enough or suspicious of Ireland. The fact that they’re questioning her one day for murder and then let her be grief counselor to kids after she was arrested at the school the day before feels unrealistic and stretching.
  • Noah is way too forgiving. Yeah, they suffered through some supernatural trauma together but he barely knows Ireland and that he’s able to forgive and forget so quickly is one of those, scratch your head and stare at the page for a few moments in shock scenes.
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“Tonight was meant to be the Harvest Ball,” Katrina said as she slid between the folds of her crimson and taupe gown. “Now the town is meeting, trying to concoct a plan to stop a being that death itself couldn’t tame.”

Ichabod sat on the edge of the bed with his back, respectfully, to Katrina while she changed. His loaded musket lay across his lap. In the reflection of the window in front of him he could see the soft curve of her hips as they tapered into her narrow waist. He cleared his throat and shifted his gaze to the floor. His chin tipped to the side, ever so slightly, to ask, “Are you secure in our plan?”

“I am to attend the summit on the arm of Brom Van Brunt,” she reaffirmed as she pulled her long, blonde locks out from the back of her gown and began tightening the laces of her bodice. “Then speak with as many people as I can, searching for anyone that may have motives leading to the Horseman.”

Ichabod nodded. Mostly to himself, he muttered the remaining details they were depending upon, “Rip will be inside as well. That man can finesse a crowd with a skill that truly baffles. If there are secrets to be found, he will uncover them. Irv will be outside with me, primarily because the Horseman isn’t the only one in this town that would like to see his head on a spike. We will be on horseback, patrolling the grounds with a few other men that have volunteered. You will have nothing to fear.”

Her elegant gown in place, Katrina turned to Ichabod wearing an expression equal parts timidity and fear. “What of Brom?”

The bed squeaked as Ichabod shifted his weight to face her. “Boorish as his ways may be, he cares for you. If you adopt the guise that you have interest in him, he will do all he can to protect you inside the gathering, while I provide you the same service outside.”

“And,” her long lashes brushed the tops of her cheeks as she cast her gaze to the floor, “you aren’t bothered by me being on his arm?”

In the midst of the plotting and planning, Ichabod had slipped into the role he knew well of military strategist. He had detached himself from the emotional aspects—until that very moment. The reality of his request sank in like a heavy stone. He had asked her to take another man’s arm, asserting her place beside him. The implications of that dug into his gut like a dull blade, churning and twisting deep.

“The mere idea of that makes me ache,” he stated, forcing the words through his suddenly parched throat. “Yet I would endure this hardship, and countless others, to keep you safe.”

She moistened her lips with a flick of her tongue, seemingly wrestling with words that gave her pause. “Ichabod, when this is over … w-would you call yourself mine?”

Ichabod closed his eyes. The euphoria of that question washed over him, cleansing him of all his sins with the promise of tomorrow. Rising to his feet, he took her velvet soft hand in his. A love he hadn’t known possible illuminated her striking face. “From the moment I saw you, my heart belonged to you alone. If by some miracle you were to give me your love in return, I would need nothing else to sustain me the rest of my days.”

Katrina’s palm tenderly brushed his cheek. “You have already claimed that.”

Allowing no further hesitation, Ichabod gathered her in his arms. Katrina tipped her head back, the soft curves of her body molding to his. Full lips parted in an alluring invitation it would take a stronger man than him to resist.  

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There is nothing worse than being put on the spot and asked to talk about yourself. For me it brings back that inevitable moment in a new school when the teacher would ask me to stand up, introduce myself and tell the class something about myself. I was always worried I would blurt out something stupid that I would get teased for. Something like, “My name’s Stacey and I like pickles!” Then for the rest of the school year I’d be known as the Pickle Girl and let’s be honest, no one wants that. So to avoid such a faux pas I will simply say that I love to write. It allows me to get my crazy out just enough that I can function as a normal member of society. 
Happy reading, 
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