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The Tale of Halcyon Crane

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  7,984 ratings  ·  1,089 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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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,984 ratings  ·  1,089 reviews

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Jun 21, 2011 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
Jul 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story

Wow, I expected to be able to tell what was going to happen with this story and for the main part, I was. However, the story pulled me in and made me want to read and finish it in one reading session. If you like islands, old houses, ghosts and paranormal events, this book is for you!
May 17, 2010 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.
C.  (Never msg.  Just comment!  Email if private.)
Paranormal fiction that isn’t horror, teenaged, or “cozy” is nearly unheard of. I’m through with unoriginal, cookie-cutter plots: found a body, who did it? I hungered for family secrets, ancient mansions, and ghosts... for adults. I am euphoric that in 2010, Wendy Webb, from close by Minnesota, USA, authored exactly the kind of book I have wanted! “The Tale Of Halcyon Crane” entices us instantly with a secret: Hallie has had a Mother all along and asks her ailing Dad to confirm that fact, before ...more
Mar 04, 2010 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 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
May 20, 2010 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
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hallie is a young woman who was raised by her father, who told her that her mother had died when Hallie was little. Hallie suddenly receives info that her mother that her mother has been alive all these years, until just recently. Hallie travels to a remote island where her mother has lived, to meet the attorney in charge of her mother's estate, and to unravel family secrets. It does not take her long to discover there are ghosts of the past, literally. This is a gothic feeling ghost story, with ...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
"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
Karen McQuestion
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and found it engrossing!
Shruti morethanmylupus
Aug 03, 2012 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
Jan 11, 2010 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
Oct 14, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This was a fun, creative, imaginative Gothic ghost story/myster/love story. A woman receives a letter from her dead Mother. A Mother she does not know. She is invited to come to the island for the reading of the will and learns about a past she does not remember. Learning that her father took her and started a new life for them. There were some twists and turns, ghosts, withes, graveyards and treacherous cliffs. This was my first Wendy Webb book but it will not be my last.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really good ghost story. Would make a great movie! Rating is 3-1/2 stars.
Shay Caroline
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
One of the pleasures that propels me through to the end of a book like this is the anticipation of the joy I'll feel when I savage it in a review. Having arrived at the end of this turkey, here I go.

Hallie James's father passes away at just about the same time as a letter arrives informing her that her long-lost mother is alive and wants to reconnect with her except that unfortunately she has also just died. I hate when that happens. Nonetheless, our intrepid Hallie ups and treks from her home i
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
Tara Chevrestt
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-release, arc, mystery
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
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ghost-stories
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
Elisha Condie
Sep 19, 2010 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 g
Aug 24, 2012 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
Mar 09, 2010 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
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 28, 2010 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
Mar 07, 2010 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
Blake Peters
Apr 21, 2010 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. ...more
Oct 14, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun little ghost story for the season. Squeaky clean. Not dying over it but held my interest.
Bambi Unbridled

Tis the season for a good ol' spooky read to get in the Halloween spirit, and I love nothing more than ghost stories happening in a grand ol' gothic mansion. Wendy Webb knows her gothic haunted mansions, and I have previously enjoyed her stories The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Vanishing.

In The Tale of Halycon Crane, we are introduced to Hallie James living in Seattle, where she has been having a rough time of it. With a failed marriage and a father suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, I imagined
Colleen Turner
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Find my full review at http://aliteraryvacation.blogspot.com.

This is the third novel I've read/listened to by Wendy Webb (I've also read The Vanishing and The Fate of Mercy Alban) and what I've really come to appreciate about her novels is her utter ability to spook me. She has this way of using bumps and creaks and whispers to raise the hair on the back of my neck and I just find that so delicious! She has this innate ability with descriptions to completely wrap the reader/listener into the sto
Lynn Spencer
May 26, 2016 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
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
ARC from Author

Wendy Webb had contacted me through Goodreads.com in an effort to promote her novel "The Tale of Halcyon Crane". I thought the book looked really interesting and managed to snag a copy to review.

And I am really glad I did. This is one of those novels that I may never have stumbled across on my own, had the author not brought it to my attention.

The gothic tale of a woman whose life was turned upside down when a strange envelope arrives in the mail announcing the death of a mother s
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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.” 20 likes
“you enjoy the way Hallie’s “tale” is slowly revealed to her? Are there storytellers in your family who have kept family lore alive? 9. Forgiveness is one of the themes in this novel. Who most needed to be able to forgive? Who most needed to be forgiven? 10. Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you know anyone who has? What are some of the best ghost stories you know?” 0 likes
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