The Tale of Halcyon Crane
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The Tale of Halcyon Crane

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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,642 ratings  ·  537 reviews
A young woman travels alone to a remote island to uncover a past she never knew was hers in this thrilling modern ghost story

When a mysterious letter lands in Hallie James’s mailbox, her life is upended. Hallie was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire decades earlier. But it turns out that her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin
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karen
i think this is the kind of book v.s. naipaul is railing against whenever he talks shit about female novelists. and it's not that this is a terrible book, it is just not...accomplished. it is clumsy in its exposition, it is not particularly scary, for a ghost story, and the characters are pretty poorly realized. it's a fine escapist book for people who don't really want to be challenged while they half-read on their lawn chairs, sipping afternoon chardonnay while they make sure their kids don't...more
Jake
When I was navigating the rift between nonfiction and fiction writing during my undergraduate career I found that I don't have a knack for nonfiction. I am sure it would take practice, diligence, all that sorta stuff, yada, yada, yada, for me to become as adept with nonfiction as I am with fiction. I love fiction-writing. That is truly where my heart is. I was in a class strictly for public relations writing and my teacher told me he could tell I was a fiction writer because my sentences were to...more
Sandi
When I was a kid, I ran across the word "halcyon" in the dictionary and fell in love with it. It means calm, peaceful and happy. Because of my love of a word, I had to take a look at The Tale of Halcyon Crane when I saw it at the library. It sounded intriguing enough for me to check out.

Now, I don't think there's really anything new or groundbreaking in this story. It's pretty ordinary and I could see where it was going most of the way. But, I was hooked from the first chapter and stayed up unti...more
Tara
This was an utterly memorizing story. I was completely drawn into the story of Hallie/Halcyon and the past history of her family. Imagine getting a letter that not only tells you that your mother was alive for the last 30 years (when you have been told that she died) and then in the same letter that she had just past away. After another family tragedy, she leaves to go to the island where she was born and where she can find out more about the family that she was taken from and hopefully she will...more
christa
This is what reading is supposed to be like: A story that comes across so well, so seamlessly that it is like a brain movie, that reminds you of the first books that kidnapped your attention. The kind where the bookmark is still warm when you reopen it.

When Wendy Webb's debut novel "The Tale of Halcyon Crane" starts, Hallie James is learning that the circumstances of her life have been a lie. Her mother didn't die in a fire; her name wasn't even Hallie James. She receives a packet with two lett...more
John
A good first effort at fiction, from a writer with a non-fiction background. Webb excels at setting scenes, as though literally painting the story with a watercolor brush ... and I'm not a particularly visual reader. Unfortunately, she let the plot get away from her.

The first half of the book was fairly good, with lots of opportunity for island description, introduction of characters, and setting up of plot lines. At that point, the book gradually, but persistently, proceeds deeper into Cliche L...more
Robin
If you like a gothic story with ghosts, a wee bit of witchcraft, creepy graves, and an interesting setting, think about reading this when it is published (April 2010).

Having lived with her father in the Seattle area for all of her life, Hallie receives a letter from a lawyer saying her mother had just died and asks her to travel to Grand Manitou Island in Lake Superior (based on Mackinaw Island) to claim her legacy. Her father had told Hallie that her mother died in a fire but turns out he fake...more
Tara Chevrestt
May 11, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Susan
Recommended to Tara by: Tara, Irene
Shelves: mystery, 2010-release, arc
I rarely read contemporary tales nowdays, but when I do, it better grab me and fast or I head back over to my historical fiction pile. Halcyon (how do you pronounce that by the way?) grabbed me and held me and even managed to give me goosebumps at times. I'm greatly impressed by this debut.

Hallie James has believed for the last 25 of her 30 years that her mother was killed in a fire and everything related to her family's past was burned in that fire. Her father raised her single handed to the v...more
Irene
With an intriguing title and a captivating cover, The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb immediately caught my eye. The theme of “magical realism” and “gothic mystery” scurried through my whetted brain, and off I went on a satisfying adventure from land to sea to Grand Manitou, an imaginary island in Lake Michigan, rather reminiscent of Mackinac Island.

Imagine receiving a mysteriously large envelope, which not only contains a letter from an attorney that you have never heard of, but worse, a ha...more
Elisha Condie
Oh gosh, this was beyond dopey. It sounded interesting enough, and since fall is starting to approach I thought it would be perfect.

First of all, it's clumsily told. The main character goes from fearful to bravely determined on the same page. And when the reader can see the mystery of the ghost coming a mile away it ain't a good ghost story. "Wait til Helen Comes" did it better, and that was for 11 year olds. The icing on the cake was when the protagonist gets rid of the malevolent ghosts by gi...more
Shruti
This book seems to aspire to the Gothic genre. It falls short.

Oh what to say about this book? The writing is mediocre. The "mystery" is obvious pretty close to the beginning of the book.

The narrator, Hallie, failed to elicit any feelings of compassion in me, and I really didn't identify with her at all. The book is full of stereotypical characters that I suspect are meant to be quirky or mysterious or something. Maybe they would have been if Webb ever developed them, but alas she didn't so the...more
Lauren
May 01, 2010 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Every once in a blue moon, I am reminded of one of the many reasons why I love to blog/read blogs/the Internet overall. What's the reason, per say? Well, it's the fact that if not for blogging, I would have never ever heard of some of the books that ended up being among my absolute favorites. The Tale of Halcyon Crane was one of those books, and had I not heard about it, well, it would have been a very, very tragic thing, because this book was drop-dead amazing; not only of the best adult novels...more
Linda
Sep 19, 2011 Linda added it
Loved this MN Book Award winner - which btw beat out a great field of contenders, such as Julie Kramer, David Housewright and William Kent Krueger in genre fiction. This is Wendy Webb's first novel, and she nails it.
A woman finds out after her father dies that her mother, whom she had thought was dead, was actually still alive until very recently. A very strange and mysterious trip follows, back to her childhood home on Lake Michigan. It's a wild, old place, and she finds ghosts there of all typ...more
Blair
This was hands down one of my more favorite reads of this year. The pacing, story and characters were excellent. The setting of a virtually-deserted tourist island in the Great Lakes was very chilling and eerie; it was reminiscent of the abandoned hotel in "The Shining". The dark and sinister visions and ghostly encounters were described with such detail that it made the hair on the back of my neck raise.

The tone of the book pulls you in right away and never lets up. I tore through this book be

...more
Mary
Hallie James is not who she thinks she is! A letter arrives in the mail one day and changes her whole world. Hallie's father has told her that her mother perished in a fire when Hallie was 5. However, the letter, written by her mother, the famous photographer Madyln Crane before her recent death, explains that Hallie's father abducted her 30 years previously and staged their deaths. Travleing to a remote island in the Great Lakes, Hallie seeks out her family history and discovers that she is not...more
Tressa
There are some nice, creepy gothic elements to The Tale of Halcyon Crane, but a lot of people will see many of the plot wrap-ups coming from a mile away; even if you're like me and pretty much oblivious to the obvious plot denouements of most movies and books.

I enjoyed the story-within-a-story whenever Iris was at the house and telling Halcyon about the house and her family's history; and I enjoyed the haunting elements of the story when the ghosts came out to play. But the modern-day part of th...more
Susan
Jul 02, 2010 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ghost story lovers
Recommended to Susan by: Tara
"It all sounds quite Gothic,” he said. “A huge old house, stuck on an island in bad weather, an unsolved murder, mysterious encounters with ghosts and rude townspeople, even the eerie old maid.”

That pretty much sums up the plot. Set on the fictitious Grand Manitou Island, which is modeled on Mackinac Island, the atmosphere is perfect for a ghost story. Even though the story is contemporary, there are no cars allowed on the island and no cell phone reception, giving it that Gothic feel. A woman...more
faeriemyst
THE TALE OF HALCYON CRANE is an interesting, easy Gothic read. It wasn't a book that held my interest in one sitting, but was enjoyable whenever I picked it up. A bit slow to start, it didn't really pick up until halfway, maybe two-thirds of the way through. The end was a bit anti-climatic but it fit the book, so that's fine. The author has a wonderful imagination and usually brought that through life, mainly through the island setting and the Hill history, which was enthralling. I loved the inc...more
Blake Peters
I really tried to like this book. The story was captivating, drawing me through the book long after I'd become irritated by the flat characters and the stilted dialogue. It's not terrible, I'm just not sure that the good outweighs the bad.
Grangoose
I was disappointed in the rather meandering style of the book. The subject matter was great and I feel the author could have taken it to some more interesting places then she did. The book was ok and was an easy read.
Emily
Ok so I didn't hate this, but I also only got to about page 133 and decided I just don't have enough time to waste on a book that constantly makes me roll my eyes and forces me to think about all the other books I would rather be reading. Yeah. That about sums this story up.

Let's talk for a second about predictability and how this usually happens in books about 'the mysterious beyond.' And the mysterious beyond is really just my fancy-pants way of saying this book is about ghosts. Yawn. What it...more
Angela
The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb is a modern ghost story filled with family secrets. Hallie James receives a mysterious letter which turns her life upside down as it reveals that her mother, who she believed died when she was a child, was actually alive and only recently passed away. Hallie discovers that her mother had believed that she and her father had died years before. Now with the loss of her father, Hallie travels to Grand Manitou Island to learn about her childhood and family his...more
Jlaurenmc
Hallie James lost both her father and her mother in just a few short days. Her father, she had counted on losing since his downward spiral into dementia forced her to seek help from a local assisted living home. Her mother, she thought she had lost long ago. In a letter from a far away law firm, Hallie learns of her mother's very recent death. Having been told her entire life that her mother perished in a house fire when she was five years old, Hallie is understandably shaken. With little left i...more
Jody
The Tale of Halcyon Crane wants to be Gothic and haunting, but it only achieves a chick-lit lite version, unfortunately. The most horrifying part was lines such as "His kiss tasted of wine and rain and possibility." (Go ahead, vomit. I'll be here when you get back.)

Also, Hallie is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Several chapters or sections ended with big revelations, the kind that in movies would have the actress sit straight up in bed, a hand clasped over her mouth, as the camera tighte...more
Bodie P
I recently finished The Tale of Halcyon Crane, by Wendy Webb. When I finished it I knew I wanted to do a review. Why? That’s a bit less straightforward. Essentially the story is a tale of mistaken identity–Halcyon grows up the child of a widowed father, or so she believes. The book begins with a letter informing her that her mother has recently died and left her a bequest. She need only return to Great Manitou Island in Lake Superior to get it. (There will be more about Great Manitou Island late...more
Trudi
This was an okay enjoyable read with plenty of atmosphere and gothic elements to recommend it, but for me, it was almost “textbook” gothic… what do you call it – a pastiche? Right down to calling the sprawling Victorian mansion Hill House. There are some genuine eerie moments and I don’t regret spending an afternoon curled up with this one, but unfortunately it’s one of those books that you know you’re going to forget in a day.

As my friends know I don’t read many mysteries, but when I do they g...more
Felina
My main beef with this book throughout was that the majority of the scary parts weren't really scary. If I can read it right before bed in the dark and still sleep like an angel, its not that scary. There were a few moments here and there that gave me goosebumps but really this turned out to be half romance and half mystery.

This book is so back and forth. Sometimes I'm like 'Alright, now we're talking' and like a paragraph later I'll be like 'Really?'. I don't like the romance with Will. But th...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
Meh.

At the back of the book, after the story, there's a bit of a bio and interview with the author, Wendy Webb. In it we learn that Ms. Webb was a journalist before she tried her hand at being a novelist, and she states that the hardest part of the transition was first learning the difference between showing rather than telling, and then writing in the showing style.

Quite frankly I believe she failed.

The story is interesting enough, even if it does seem to have a checklist of gothic romance trop...more
Lisa Temple
Oct 23, 2013 Lisa Temple rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 10th grade up
Shelves: spooky-fun
Last weekend I went hunting for a very specific kind of read. I wanted a novel just spooky enough to give me a chill or two along with that warm fuzzy feeling you get when its raining outside and your curled up with a good book, but not so scary as to render my husband unable to leave me alone in the house after dark. I wanted a little romance and a lot of mystery and a goose bump or two or three - maybe four. Well, I downloaded a few samples and had just about given up on locating my heart's de...more
Linda
Hallie James is living and working near Seattle, where she was raised by her single father, now in a nursing home. During the course of one fateful week, everything she thought she knew about her life turns out to be a fabrication. Hallie travels to the Lake Superior Island of Manitou, where she was born, and is greeted by the local attorney, and, very, very gradually, she learns the history of the family she never knew she had. There seems to be only one person on this quaint island, where no m...more
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Too cliché? 6 38 Aug 17, 2014 07:46PM  
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3023926
WENDY WEBB's novels are mysteries about long-buried family secrets, set in big, old haunted houses on the Great Lakes.

THE VANISHING (2014, Hyperion) is the story of Julia Bishop, who takes a job as a companion for a famous novelist, who the entire world thinks is dead. When she travels to the novelist's remote estate, she begins to suspect her too-good-to-be-true job offer is exactly that.

THE FATE...more
More about Wendy Webb...
The Fate of Mercy Alban The Vanishing

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“Before I lost my father, I never understood the rituals surrounding funerals: the wake, the service itself, the reception afterward,the dinners prepared by well-meaning friends and delivered in plastic containers, even the popular habit of making poster boards filled with photos of the dear departed. But now I know why we do those things. It's busywork, all of it. I had so much to take care of, so many arrangements to make, so many people to inform, I didn't have a moment to be engulfed by the ocean of grief that was lapping at my heels. Instead, I waded through the shallows, performing task after task, grateful to have duties to propel me forward.” 11 likes
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