The Tale of Halcyon Crane - Review

Holt Paperbacks, March 30, 2010
Paperback, 326 Pages
ISBN: 978-0805091403
Ordering Information:

This tale begins with a young woman named Hallie James living in Puget Sound. On one foggy morning, she soon learns her whole existence was lived in deception thanks to two letters. One from the mother she believed to have died long ago. The second from a lawyer reporting her death. The only person who can clear up a lifetime full of lies is her Alzheimer's father. He didn't remember his own daughter on a good day. However, it only took one lucid answer to reveal the startling truth: “Madyln wrote to you?” Hallie had only known her mother as Annie. The next day, she was left facing the death of a mother that came years after she had been told and also the death of her father.

On a whim she calls the lawyer, packs a bag, and leaves for Grand Manitou Island not knowing what she will find but wanting to know about the life that was taken from her. With the aid of her mother's attorney, Will, and a Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper name Iris, she slowly learns the haunting details of her family's history as well as her own past.

The Tale of Halcyon Crane is the debut novel from author Wendy Webb. However, Webb is no stranger to writing. She built a twenty year career as journalist before making the switch to fiction. I found myself not wanting to put this book down. It's a rarity for me. I think Hallie gets pulled in to the stories and living on the island and the ghosts a little two easy. She comes off a little too over-resilient for all that she's been through. It's fast paced. Although, the backstory portion is a bit more predominant than the ghosts and eerie happenings on the island and in her family home. It doesn't take away from the overall plot. The reader is always left wondering what will happen next.

I do think the ending is a bit rushed. I would have loved the confrontation scene between her and the three ghost triplets to be drawn out more. Its like the novel was building the reader up to this moment and when it happened, you're left with a ho hum feeling. Webb discussed in a mini-interview, located in the back of the book, the switch from nonfiction to fiction concerning the different styles of writing. In various parts, it reads more telling than showing. However, I don't believe this takes away from the story. The Tale of Halcyon Crane rewards the reader with a ghostly tale along with a sense of family appreciation without an ounce of disappointment.


Jessica Penot said…
I'll look for this one!
Courtney Mroch said…
I'm behind on blog commenting but I thought you did an excellent review of her book! You hit something on the nail too that eluded me: she told more than showed. Still, somehow she pulled it off. I, too, was absorbed by the book and was able to breeze through the flaws. Super review!

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