The Penguin Book of Witches and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Other Stores from Penguin Classics

halloween reads
Penguin Classics has released two new bind-ups of some classic literature perfect for both the classroom, and the Halloween season. The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe features a collection of historical accounts and documentation of (alleged) witches in early America. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Other Stories features some of the finest work by American author Washington Irving, including his beloved Halloween tale about Ichabod Crane.

legend of sleepy hollowEach book would be perfectly suited to a school classroom — but offers readers plenty to enjoy on their own, as well. Anyone with an appreciation for macabre writing and imaginative stories will find plenty to feast their senses on in the bind-up of Irving’s stories.

For those familiar only with popular culture’s adaptations of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it’s well worth the time to read Irving’s original story. Though it has few similarities to the FOX TV show “Sleepy Hollow” or the Johnny Depp movie of the same name, there are elements of the story that have survived in various modern-day adaptations. (Perhaps one of the most surprisingly faithful adaptations is the Disney short film found in The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, with narration sung by Bing Crosby.)

Perhaps one of the story’s most iconic images — the shattered pumpkin found next to the bridge where Ichabod was last seen — comes straight from Irving’s text:

In one part of the road leading to the church, was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hate of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it was a shattered pumpkin.

penguin book of witchesMeanwhile, the historical accounts compiled in The Penguin Book of Witches offer a chilling but factual account of alleged cases of witchcraft in the early United States, starting in the pre-Colonial 16th century and running through the early 19th century — with plenty of pages dedicated to the infamous Salem witch trials and associated cases.

Edited by Howe, the compilation does a good job of “translating” (per se) the older texts for ease of comprehension for modern readers, such as updating vocabulary and punctuation. It’s a kindness I wish had been paid to the text of such similar manuscripts that I studied when I was in school!

Check out both books now for some excellent classics perfect for Halloween — or any time of year you’re ready for some historical spookiness! They are both available now.

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