No television show left its characters in more peril at the end of Season 1 than Sleepy Hollow. Crane buried alive! Abbie trapped in an otherworldly doll house! Katrina at the mercy of the Headless Horseman! Frank in prison for murder! Jenny trapped in a crushed car! And the Cranes’ long-lost son 140121sleepy-hollow-finale-mison1_300x206revealed to be none other than War, a Horseman of the Apocalypse.

My fingernails are getting worn to nubs from hanging onto the edge of that cliff.

Sleepy Hollow is a heady mixture of American history, the Book of Revelations, horror, unexpected family drama and yes, humor. It asks a wacky question: What if the American Revolution was really a battle against the forces of evil to prevent the End of Days and our nation’s founders were in on the secret?

Headless HorsemanWhen I first saw the promos for the FOX television show I have to say that I was skeptical. I grew up 30 miles from the real Sleepy Hollow and was steeped in local Revolutionary War history and Washington Irving’s tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. What could this show possibly have that I didn’t already know?

How about everything? Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane manages to be dashing, charming, delightfully geeky and far dreamier than his literary counterpart. Nicole Beharie is a fierce, intelligent, force-to-be-reckoned-with as Lt. Abbie Mills (or “left-tenant” as Crane calls her). Abbie is a driven professional who is NOT defined by a man and whose troubled relationship with her sister, Jenny, is a central part of the story. When was the last time you saw two badass sisters whose love for one another was more important than their romantic entanglements? And I can’t get enough of learning about the secretKatrina life of our nation’s founders. The Boston Tea Party? A diversion to recover a projector disguised as a sextant. George Washington’s Bible? A map of Purgatory. Thomas Jefferson’s interest in architecture? Cover story for building a chamber to hold a minion of Hell.

It will make you wish you’d had paid better attention in American history class so you could be in on the jokes and scoop up all the occult Easter eggs this brainy show likes to drop. But have no fear! (At least none until the Season 2 makes you jump out of your seat). Here are some terrific reads that will get you ready as we breathlessly await Season 2 of this cliff dweller.

the-legend-of-sleepy-hollow-and-other-stories-from-the-sketch-book-signet-classics-14694058The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories from the Sketch Book by Washington Irving

If you missed the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in school, or even if you read it, exploring the original will put you back in touch with one of the original American writers, Washington Irving. Edgar Allen Poe wrote that “his influence on American writers is unquestioned.” Not bad coming from the father of American Gothic horror and suspense!macculloch 1776

1776 by David McCullough

David McCullough isn’t just an eminent historian; he’s an incredible storyteller who makes America’s fight for independence absolutely gripping. This book is credited for its fresh perspective and incredible portraits of the “Georges” on both sides of the Atlantic—General George Washington and King George III. Read this and you’ll have a solid foundation of what was going on when Ichabod first faced the Headless Horseman.

0763646261.01.LZZZZZZZThe Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (Volumes I-II) by M.T. Anderson

The two volumes of this epic adventure of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation and The Kingdom on the Waves, follows the son of an African princess being raised in the Boston household of radical philosophers and given a classical education. In spite of his good life he realizes that he’s the subject of an experiment to test the intellectual acuity of Africans and very much a captive. When war comes and the fortunes of the philosophers’ college changes, he’s thrust into the world to make some hard choices in his quest for freedom, independence and identity. It’s not hard to imagine him as an ancestor of the Mills sisters.