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The Tale of Halcyon Crane

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,851 Ratings  ·  683 Reviews
A young woman travels to uncover a past she never knew was hers in this thrilling, modern, ghost story. A letter upends Hallie's life. She was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire. Her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently. Why would Hallie's father have taken her away? What happened to her family thirty years ago?

Hallie travels t
Paperback, 328 pages
Published 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Modern Gothic
26th out of 453 books — 1,100 voters
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Best Magical Realism: Witchy Fiction
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 28, 2011 karen rated it it was ok
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
Jun 27, 2010 Jake rated it did not like it
Shelves: wished-i-hadn-t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2016 Brittnee rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, spooky
3.5 stars. Spooky & entertaining.
May 29, 2010 Sandi rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2010 Tara rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 02, 2010 christa rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 11, 2010 Robin rated it really liked it
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
Aug 16, 2012 Shruti rated it did not like it
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
Tara Chevrestt
May 11, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Susan
Recommended to Tara by: Tara, Irene
Shelves: mystery, arc, 2010-release
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
Elisha Condie
Sep 19, 2010 Elisha Condie rated it did not like it
Shelves: bleh
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
Sierra Abrams
Like...what happened here??? Those last 20-30 pages brought the rating down 2 whole stars. WHY WASN'T THIS EDITED MORE? WHY COULDNT IT BE LONGER?! I have serious issues w/ this.
But I also LOVED the rest of this book so???
Apr 20, 2015 Irene rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, gave-away
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
May 02, 2010 Tressa rated it liked it
Shelves: ghost-stories, 2010
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
Sep 12, 2012 Emily rated it did not like it
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
May 01, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 22, 2011 Jody rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
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
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
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
Aug 15, 2011 Blair rated it it was amazing
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

Mar 13, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2014 Caitlin rated it really liked it
Oh, how I love a good, scary, gothic novel. This book did not disappoint. It has a creepy old house, ghosts, scary children, a witch, family secrets, and lots of surprises and turns. All of them are my favorite topics for a novel!

The book takes you to an island in the Great Lakes. The island is very primitive. Here, Hallie uncovers the truth about her past, as well as the history of her family. The past is beautifully unraveled and is full of surprises.

The book did have some cheesy parts. This
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
Lynn Spencer
Jun 03, 2016 Lynn Spencer rated it liked it
I'm honestly not sure what kept me from DNF-ing this one. I guess I had just enough curiosity to keep me going.

The Tale of Halcyon Crane aspires to be a gothic, and it starts off somewhat in the vein of Simone St. James, with a heroine cast adrift in the world and finding herself in a spooky setting with hints of sinister, perhaps even otherworldly, goings on. The plot construction just isn't there, though.

The book starts off well, with our heroine Hallie learning that she is really Halcyon Cran
Blake Peters
Apr 21, 2010 Blake Peters rated it it was ok
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.
May 20, 2010 Grangoose rated it it was ok
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.
Lynn Pribus
Jul 22, 2015 Lynn Pribus rated it liked it
This book was a bit annoying, yet strangely engaging. It started out a bit romance novel with Our Heroine learning a mother she'd thought dead since she was five actually dying when O.H. is in her mid-thirties. She returns to the Very Remote Island with Only Horse-drawn Vehicles in the middle of one of the Great Lakes to reclaim the family home.

She instantly falls for the lawyer and is in bed with him fairly soon. She sees ghostly things. Is she schitzo? Suffering PTSD?

Shades of Mrs. Danvers in
Amanda Greever
Not a very entertaining read. The ghosts aren't that scary. The author felt it necessary to include a lackluster romance, which hurt the story even more. It was a big cliche and simply included to give the book a different angle. Unfortunately, Halcyon Crane is a boring character, and the book follows suit.

There were some interesting bits here and there, as the housekeeper tells Halcyon stories of her family's history. Sadly, they were brief, and we were back to Hallie watching TV. Or Hallie re
Apr 18, 2010 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: given-away
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
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Too cliché? 5 44 Aug 17, 2014 07:46PM  
  • The Spiritualist
  • Arcadia Falls
  • Ghost on Black Mountain
  • The Haunting of Maddy Clare
  • The Seance
  • Grange House
  • The Lantern
  • The Man in the Picture
  • The Poisoned House
  • False Mermaid (Nora Gavin #3)
  • The Girl On Legare Street (Tradd Street, #2)
  • The House of Lost Souls
  • Property of a Lady (Nell West/Michael Flint, #1)
  • In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines
  • The House at Midnight
  • Beneath the Shadows
  • The White Devil
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.

More about Wendy Webb...

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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.” 14 likes
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