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The Hollow : Hollow Trilogy - Jessica Verday

Paperback Published: 3rd August 2010
ISBN: 9781416978947
Number Of Pages: 528
For Ages: 15 - 18 years old

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When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

About the Author

Jessica Verday wrote the first draft of her debut novel, The Hollow, by hand, using thirteen spiral-bound notebooks and fifteen black pens. She likes: things that smell nice, rainy nights, old books, cemeteries, Johnny Cash, zombie movies, L.J. Smith books, abandoned buildings, trains, and snow. She is currently hand-writing the continuation of Abbey and Caspian’s story from her home in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.

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In the wake of The Twilight Saga, another supernatural romance rears its ugly head, this time taking on Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. After the death of her best friend, Abbey feels abandoned and alone. She tries distracting herself by creating perfumes, but true distraction comes in the form of Caspian, the "total hottie" she meets in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery. Abbey quickly falls head over heels in love with Caspian, although she struggles with his mysterious and elusive demeanor. Just as things seem like they are back to normal, Abbey makes two discoveries: she finds Kristen's secret diary that reveals she was hiding something from Abbey, and she learns Caspian's true identity. On the verge of a breakdown, Abbey's world slowly begins to unravel when she realizes Sleepy Hollow may hold more truth than legend.

At first glance, Verday's book appears to be overflowing with fabulous potential. The stunning cover art and legendary premise lure readers into thinking this hefty tome is worth the time investment, but the story line drags, disappoints and quickly falls flat. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the obvious catalyst for the story, but other than the setting, Abbey's obsession with the tale, and the quotes that open each chapter, it is unclear as to how the legend relates until the last few chapters. Unfortunately readers might not feel compelled to stick it out to the very end after reading countless pages describing Abbey's mundane activies like mixing scents, baking cookies, organizing her uncle's office or working on a science fair project. Although the book will definitely sell itself, it is not well written and readers may be disappointed. This scheduled trilogy may be a series to pass up if budgets are tight.



"----VOYA April 2010"

Preface

They said she killed herself. Everyone was saying it.

What started out as a rumor, quietly whispered among small gatherings of polite people, quickly grew into something that was openly discussed in large gatherings of impolite people. I was so sick of hearing them talk about it.

They questioned me. Over and over again, trying to find out if I knew what had happened. But my answers didn't change. Yet it never failed — someone else would ask, as if one day my reply would suddenly be different.

I didn't know, but I should have...and I've been haunted ever since.

Chapter One

Last Words

From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants...this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow.

— "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving

It was funny. At a time like this, wasn't I supposed to be thinking serious thoughts of eternity, and the afterlife, and all that? As I glanced around me at the small groups of people huddled around the room, it seemed like that's what they were all thinking about. Each somber face reflected their pious thoughts, but all I could think about was the hair-dyeing incident.

It was funny.

I guess I should have been thinking about all the things I wanted to say. All the things I couldn't say. And all the things I'd never get the chance to say. But I didn't. It wasn't like any of this was really happening anyway. She's only been missing since June 9. Sixty-eight days. That's not long enough for her to be...dead.

You can't have a viewing of the body ifthere is no body. And someone can't really be gone from your life forever if there is no viewing. It all works itself out. This was only an act. Just motions we were going through.

I stared at the closed casket a bit longer, and then shuffled off to the side as someone came up right behind me. The message was silent, but it was still there. You've had your turn. Now move on.

I moved on.

Closer and closer to the wall I pressed myself, trying to blend in. A moldy, stale smell wafted around me, and I recognized the cloying odor of flowers past their prime. Like the room itself had absorbed years of their stench. Putting one hand behind my back, I reached out to touch the yellowed lily-of-the-valley-patterned wallpaper. It was rough and bumpy under my fingertip, and covered every square inch of a room that looked like it hadn't been updated since 1973. It was awful.

The room started filling up, and I shuffled to the left. Here, the pea-soup-colored shag carpet was completely worn through in several spots. Faded pictures of shepherds guarding their sheep decorated each wall, but they were all slightly water stained, and hung with gaudy gold wire. I was amazed at the overall tackiness.

Why on earth would someone pick a room like this to gather a large group of people into? It had to be the ugliest room I had ever seen. A bingo hall would have been more appropriate.

But every time I thought about slipping out of the room and away from all these people, Mom would catch my eye and give me a look. That sorry-honey-but-it-won't-be-much-longer-I-promise look. Which meant that it would, indeed, be much longer.

Especially since Mom and Dad seemed more than happy to spend a full twenty minutes talking to every person who entered the room. So I stared at the ugly wallpaper...and that nasty carpet...and those gaudy pictures....

I had to get out. I gave Mom the signal, or at least what I hoped passed for some sort of signal, that I was escaping for a walk. She didn't respond, but since she was halfway across the room, it wasn't like she could do anything to stop me.

The nearest doorway took me to a hallway that ended in a large foyer at the front of the funeral home. The foyer was old and dusty, and decorated with hideous fake flowers and fake wood paneling that covered the bottom half of each wall. Someone had apparently thought that it would be a good idea to continue the flower theme out here and had pasted a green ivy border, which was just as awful as the lily of the valley wallpaper, directly above the paneling.

It was not a good look.

Then I saw a bench. The coat rack next to it was full, but the bench was empty. And all mine.

Suddenly I didn't mind that ugly wood paneling, or the even uglier ivy border. It looked quiet over there on that bench, and I sat down to contemplate how nice it was that someone had been thoughtful enough to put it here just for me.

But my thoughts were interrupted when three people came out of the viewing room and started walking toward me. Since the bench and the coat rack were positioned right next to the outside doors, I desperately hoped that they were leaving. I wasn't in the mood to force a smile and make small talk with people I didn't want to be around.

They were all dressed in black, their "viewing finest," I'm sure. Miss Horvack, a substitute teacher, was on the right, and I noticed Mrs. Kelley, the town historian, on the left. I didn't recognize the woman in the middle. Sleepy Hollow might be a small town, but that doesn't mean I know everyone who lives here.

Their loud whispers disturbed the air, and I tried very hard not to listen to what they were saying, but I quickly gave up when something interesting caught my attention. I edged closer down the bench to listen in.

— trying to throw eggs at cars from the bathroom windows. Eleven and nine they were. Eleven and nine! Miss Horvack's gravelly voice broke through as she spoke louder and louder.

Mmm-hmm, someone murmured.

Thank goodness I was there to stop them. After ten minutes I just opened up the door and hollered in that they had used up the bathroom time limit and that they needed to make their way out of there. Good thing I did too, she huffed, her voice getting more excited. "Wouldn't you know it; they came scrambling out with the eggs sticking out of their pockets. I was flabbergasted. Flabbergasted, I tell you!"

Mrs. Kelley spoke up now. "The parents just don't care anymore. That's the real shame of it. Kids these days need to learn some manners."

Children of all ages have no respect. No respect for their parents and no respect for their elders. None at all. That's what happened with that Kristen girl, I bet. I listened closer as the woman I didn't recognize joined in. "She had no respect for her family. I heard she was doing all sorts of drugs, just like her brother."

The outraged gasps of the two other ladies merged with my quiet snort of disbelief. Kristen would never do drugs. This woman obviously had her facts very wrong.

It probably was drug related, Miss Horvack agreed. "These kids today are all doing the drugs. Everything's about the drugs."

Mrs. Kelley voiced her strong agreement about "the drugs."

And what does it all boil down to? The third woman paused, and then took over the conversation again. "No respect, just like I said. They have no respect for anything. Her poor parents."

Miss Horvack and Mrs. Kelley quickly agreed, each stating several more reasons for the obvious downfall of society's youth.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Who were these people to spread rumors about Kristen like this? Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knew that Kristen's family had never gotten over the loss of their only son to a drug overdose eight years ago. If there was one thing that Kristen would not have gotten involved in, it was "the drugs."

Curling my hands into fists, I felt each fingernail dig sharply into my palms, and I tried to control my anger. But I couldn't take it anymore. These women were wrong, and they needed to know it. I jumped up to interrupt them, but then I saw Mom peeking out of the doorway from the viewing room. She saw me too, and raised one eyebrow. "There you are, Abigail."

I knew that look. And that eyebrow.

I stared Mrs. Kelley and Miss Horvack directly in the eye as I stomped past them, to prove that I'd heard what they'd said, and to let them know that it had pissed me off royally. They pretended not to notice.

When I re-entered the lily room, I went to stand up front with Dad. He put his arm around my shoulder, and it was nice to feel the support. The conversation that I had overheard ran through my head, playing out over and over again. I wanted to confront those women and set the record straight. To tell them what I thought of people who would talk about Kristen like that, and how inappropriate it was. Ultimately, though, I just wanted to let them know how very, very wrong they were.

Instead I just stood there and stared blankly at the casket.

Kristen's school picture from last year had been placed next to it, and I concentrated very hard on that picture, trying to tune out everyone else around me. Her mom had asked me if she could use a picture of us wearing big goofy hats and big goofy grins. But I hadn't been able to answer her. I just didn't know what to say when she'd asked, so I guess she'd taken that as a no.

Looking at that plain school picture, I suddenly wished that I had said yes. There should be a picture of us up there, even if this was just an act. I should have been able to give Kristen that much, at least. Everyone here deserved to see the real Kristen, not just some stiff, posed side of her.

The people around me started to bow their heads and close their eyes, and I realized that Reverend Prescott was closing the evening with a prayer. It didn't take very long, and when he was finished, I followed Mom and Dad across the room for our final rounds.

Kristen's parents were very emotional, so we rushed through a quick good-bye with them. I was actually a little relieved, because the last thing I wanted to do was blurt out something terribly inappropriate, like how I was going to miss the lasagna her mom used to make for me.

Reverend Prescott was next, along with whomever else we happened to pass on our way out. It ended up taking us twenty-five minutes to make it out of that room, and I had never been so happy to see the hallway.

The trio was still there, only now they had attracted a slightly larger crowd. They didn't even bother to stop talking while we squeezed by them, and their words drifted over me.

Poor thing.

So sad, having to bury an empty casket.

They'll probably never find the body.

If she was depressed, then it was obviously a suicide.

I turned and gave Mrs. Kelley and Miss Horvack another look as I passed, only this time I added a glare to it. Pushing my way through the heavy exit door, I stepped outside with Mom and Dad and tried to let the cool night air calm my raging temper. The doors echoed loudly as they closed solidly behind us.

The gossipers never even noticed.

I lay awake in bed that night, staring at the ceiling, until the first few fingers of dawn were stretching into my room. I tried to force myself to get some sleep, but it didn't last for very long, and neither did the sunshine. It turned cloudy and overcast by midmorning.

The funeral was supposed to be at four thirty, but after lunch I couldn't handle being indoors anymore so I grabbed a light raincoat and told Mom I was going for a walk. She was in the middle of discussing press releases and funeral write-ups with Dad, so she just waved a hand in my general direction. I was out the door before she had a chance to ask where I was headed, grateful that she wasn't going to make me sit down and discuss my "feelings" with her, or something.

Not really knowing where to go, I started walking slowly up the hill that led away from the house. A chilly breeze blew by, and I stopped for a minute to shrug on the yellow coat, stuffing a hand deep inside each pocket.

I watched as the ground moved beneath me with every step I took, and it wasn't long before I found myself at the only cemetery in the entire town of Sleepy Hollow. It stretched for miles, and Kristen and I had come here practically every day. It was our cemetery.

Slipping through the large iron gates that guarded the main entrance, my feet automatically found the well-worn pathways that we had walked so often. I took my time wandering past the grassy hills, weaving around trees and bushes, and stopped every now and then to look around. There was always something interesting to see each time I came here.

Whether it was a freshly tended grave site, or a toy positioned on top of a tombstone, it always varied. But every once in a while something strange and unusual would appear. Something that made you wonder why that particular item had been left, and what the story behind it was.

Today it was a chair.

An old-fashioned chair made out of wrought iron with a slatted wooden seat rested right next to a freshly sown grave. The chair was waiting, as if to seat someone so that they could talk to whoever had been so recently placed inside the earth. It was both disturbing and beautiful at the same time.

Debating briefly, I took a quick look around to make sure that I was still alone. I didn't want to bother any grieving family members that might be nearby. Then I strayed off the path and walked up to the chair, being careful to step around the loose soil.

Can I sit here for a moment? I asked the fresh grave. "I promise to move if the rightful owner of this chair shows up."

A limb from a nearby cherry tree swayed up and down, so I took that as a yes. Carefully brushing off the seat, I sat down.

Vast grounds surrounded me on all sides, punctuated with small bursts of color. Several large trees had started to change shades, and each one was a bright, bold contrast to the muted softer colors of the cherry trees scattered among them. The graveyard would be absolutely stunning when fall actually arrived and all of the leaves turned.

This is a beautiful spot, I said quietly, speaking to the dirt beside me. "I know you haven't been here very long, but I think you'll like it. A giant maple tree sits behind us, and the shade reaches all the way down to the bottom of the hill. Some of the leaves are starting to change now, and it's breathtaking." I had spent so much time visiting this cemetery that it didn't feel strange at all to be talking to a grave.

I have a friend who's going to be buried here later today, I continued on. "Not right here in this part, but down near the Old Dutch Church section. I hope they have a tree down there for her. She would like a tree. Wherever she is...."

The wind picked up, and I fell silent. It howled around me, making an eerie moaning sound. More sad than scary, it was like the wind was mourning for my loss. And even though this whole thing was just one big fake moment in time, I definitely felt a loss. In some ways, I think that knowing she really was dead would almost be easier to understand. In some ways, that would be easier to deal with.

Something shiny suddenly caught my eye. I leaned forward to get a better look.

It was a small bulldozer moving steadily along one of the paths down below. After a couple of minutes chugging, it rolled to a stop by an erected awning. Several people were standing around, and two of them were holding shovels. In the back of my mind somewhere, I knew what they were going to do. I also knew that I probably shouldn't watch them do it.

But I couldn't turn away.

In rapt attention I watched as they began the slow process of digging a grave. The bulldozer raised and lowered its arm several times, each turn coming back up with a pile of gleaming dark dirt. Then the workers pushed their shovels down into the hole. I assumed they were packing in the sides and removing any stray dirt.

Over and over this happened, and still I watched them. I should have felt something. Anger...disgust...sadness. But I didn't feel any of those things. Instead I was hypnotized.

When it had finished its chore, the bulldozer chugged back up along the path. The men threw their shovels to the ground and moved on to set up a wide metal piping system around the edges of the empty hole. Once that was complete, the workers moved the awning and several white chairs into place beside the grave, and then loaded the shovels and themselves into a truck and drove away.

It was amazing to see the complete conversion of an empty piece of land to an available burial site. And a little hard to understand how easily it could all be done.

The wind moaned again, and several raindrops fell onto my head. I had completely lost track of time, and I probably needed to get back home to get dressed for the service. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark shadow move, but when I faced the direction that I thought it had gone, there was nothing there.

Turning back to the grave next to me, I raised my voice slightly to be heard over the pitch of the wind. "Thanks for the company." I stood up from the chair and gave a farewell salute before carefully stepping onto the path. I glanced one more time over my shoulder, but the shadow was gone.

That was when the sky opened up.

Huge raindrops fell hard, each one splattering on impact. I tucked my hands back inside my raincoat so that at least one part of me would stay dry. Even if it was only a small part.

The pathway along the graveyard turned slick with water and mud, and it splashed along the bottom of my jeans and shoes as I walked. Unfortunately, I was still pretty far from where I'd entered, and even farther from my house. I had nothing but a long, wet, miserable walk home to look forward to.Copyright © 2009 by Jessica Miller

ISBN: 9781416978947
ISBN-10: 1416978941
Series: Hollow Trilogy
Audience: Children
For Ages: 15 - 18 years old
For Grades: 7 - 9
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: 3rd August 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.32 x 12.7  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.45