The Tale of Halcyon Crane

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Overview

Ghosts don't exist in our world of today. Life is too pragmatic, too consuming, too busy for past lives to linger on longer than their allotted time, or so Halcyon had believed, until she received a letter from a lawyer claiming that her mother, whom she had thought long dead, had actually been living in another part of the country since Halcyon's early childhood. She had only recently passed away, leaving Halcyon heir to an unexpected fortune and an estate on an isolated island...

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The Tale of Halcyon Crane: A Novel

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Overview

Ghosts don't exist in our world of today. Life is too pragmatic, too consuming, too busy for past lives to linger on longer than their allotted time, or so Halcyon had believed, until she received a letter from a lawyer claiming that her mother, whom she had thought long dead, had actually been living in another part of the country since Halcyon's early childhood. She had only recently passed away, leaving Halcyon heir to an unexpected fortune and an estate on an isolated island in the middle of the Great Lakes.

Setting out to find some answers, Halcyon travels to her mother's home. But will she be prepared for the ghastly family history that waits for her there, the visions and revelations that will change everything that she thought she knew about the father she lived with and the mother she'd lost long ago?

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hallie James, a divorced thirtysomething working as a copy editor for the local newspaper and dealing with her father's descent into Alzheimer's, receives a letter from a woman named Madlyn Crane who claims to be her mother. Hallie had been told her mother died in a fire when she was six, so she travels to a remote island in the Great Lakes to learn more. She meets with her mother's lawyer, who happens to be one of her childhood friends, and is told that her father had faked both his and Hallie's deaths to escape justice and then raised her under an assumed name. Unable to accept this account, Hallie sets out to clear her father's name. Even as she struggles with the islanders, who might not want past events revisited, Hallie is tormented by ghosts as she learns her family history and tries to piece together the truth. VERDICT Despite a few clichés, Webb offers an engaging modern gothic tale with a strong female protagonist and well-done suspense. Fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Barbara Michaels and readers who like supernatural elements in their fiction will enjoy this debut.—Beth Blakesley, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman
From the Publisher
“Webb offers an engaging modern gothic tale with a strong female protagonist and well-done suspense. Fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Barbara Michaels and readers who like supernatural elements in their fiction will enjoy this debut.”—Library Journal

“Debut novelist Wendy Webb gives both Bram Stoker and Stephen King a run for their travel budget, inventing an island in the Great Lakes that can’t be matched for pristine natural beauty, richness of history, touristic amenities . . . and sheer supernatural terror. . . . The novel . . .  gives a more generous account of how the spirit of a beautiful place can complexly affect a human being, for both good and ill. Wendy Webb is a professional journalist, first and foremost. Like those journalistic masters Dickens and Twain before her, she knows that to write good travel prose, you must give a vivid account of both the demons you find along the way and the demons you bring along with you.”—Michael Alec Rose, BookPage

“Entertaining to say the least. Sensational . . . Webb's page-turner is a guilty pleasure best suited for a lakeside cabin's bedstand.”—Megan Doll, The Star Tribune

“Booksellers are loving Halcyon Crane, which has been selected by three Independent Booksellers' associations—national and Midwestern—as worthy of special promotion. . . .  Webb includes all the classic ghostly elements in her novel, but she gives the book a contemporary spin with a strong female protagonist.”—Mary Ann Grossman, St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a wonderful gothic complete with ghosts and witches, graveyards and dreams.  It whisks the reader up and into its magic from the first page. Captivating and haunting, this debut proves Wendy Webb is a very gifted storyteller.”—M.J. Rose, author of The Memorist and The Reincarnationist

“A chilling and imaginative ghost story with a charming Great Lakes island setting, a fittingly spooky hilltop mansion, and a likable heroine who is forced to confront the disturbing secrets of her past and the powerful truths of her present.  Webb keeps the reader spellbound as the intertwined tales of several generations of a most unusual family unspool in magical and often eerie ways.”—Ellen Baker, author of Keeping House

The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a wonderfully creepy gothic tale with a distinctly modern sensibility. Ms. Webb has written a hypnotic, twisting, and vividly imagined story about the terrible and lovely ways the past impacts the present, and how one woman’s discovery of old family secrets reveals new truths about herself and her life, and sets her on a perilous road to a future she could not previously have imagined.”—Megan Chance, author of The Spiritualist and An Inconvenient Wife

“An old fashioned ghost story with a contemporary twist, The Tale of Halcyon Crane has it all: an unsolved murder, mystery, family drama, a moody old house on an island, and a feisty orphan who will have you rooting for her from page one. In her debut novel, Wendy Webb weaves a complex, atmospheric tale that will remind you why you first loved reading.”—Patry Francis, author of The Liar’s Diary

“Set on a mysterious time-warped island in Lake Superior, The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a delicious ghost story, by turns chilling and heart-warming. The perfect cozy read.”—Mary Sharratt, author of The Vanishing Point and Daughters of the Witching Hill

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441725073
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 10
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Wendy Webb is editor in chief of Duluth-Superior magazine. A journalist with two decades of experience, she lives in Minnesota. This is her first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

The Tale of Halcyon Crane

A Novel
By Webb, Wendy

Holt Paperbacks

Copyright © 2010 Webb, Wendy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780805091403

1

I was the only passenger on the ferry crossing to Grand Manitou Island. As I stood on deck holding tight to the railing while we dipped and tumbled on the green, roiling waves, I understood why tourist season grinds to a halt when the November winds blow.

I was called to the tiny island in the middle of the Great Lakes by a dead woman. I traveled there at an unwelcoming time of year to learn the story of her life, hoping to discover my own story as well. A few whitecaps and swells wouldn’t keep me away.

A summons from the dead is a strange way to begin a tale, but, as I have since learned, it’s really no stranger than any other story in my family. As it turns out, I come from a long line of people who hover on the edge of reality. My family history isn’t merely a chronicle of births and deaths and weddings and accomplishments, though it includes those things. No, the stories of my relatives sound more like fairy tales—Grimm’s, unfortunately—with witches, hauntings, and malevolence all wrapped up in regrettable and sometimes bloody mishaps.

Until recently, I knew nothing of this. Growing up, I had an altogether different notion of who I was and where I came from. Then the truth began to reveal itself, as it always does. Truth seeks the lightof day, needs it just like we need air, and so it finds ways to seep out of the sturdiest, most skillfully hidden boxes—even those buried deeply in the hearts of the dead.

My truth took its first breath one foggy autumn morning, nearly a thousand miles away from where I stood on the tossing ferry. That particular day didn’t begin with anything out of the ordinary. Isn’t that always the way? Life is thrown into chaos while you’re making your way through mundane everyday tasks—an accident on the way to the grocery store takes your beloved, a heart attack interrupts a lazy Sunday morning, or, in my case, life- altering news arrives with the morning mail.

I awoke in my little bungalow overlooking Puget Sound and lay in bed awhile, listening to the barking of the seals. Then I pulled on a sweatsuit and sneakers and headed outside for my usual morning walk. I had already crossed the street and started up the hill before I noticed the fog settling in, dulling the edges of the world around me.

Some people find the sound of a foghorn romantic, evoking images of travel to faraway places with strange- sounding names. But I’ve never liked the fog. It obscures reality with what seems to be sinister intent, erasing all that is not within arm’s reach. Anything could be out there, beyond.

I knew it was silly, being unnerved by fog in a seaside town, so I continued to walk my usual route, listening to the tinkling of the wind chimes—tubular bells— that were hanging from the eaves of various houses along the way.

I can’t explain why—did I sense what was coming?—but the back of my neck began to tingle with a thousand tiny pinpricks. I paused, holding my breath, dread seeping off the cold pavement into the bottoms of my feet and working its way up my legs. Then something convinced me to hurry home, and I arrived at my door just in time to see the mailman materialize out of the fog.

"Pea soup," he said, shaking his head as he handed me a stack of mail.

"You be careful out there, Scooter." I smiled at him. "I couldn’t see you until you were on my front step."

"Don’t you worry about me, Ms. James. I’m old friends with this fog."

I watched him disappear into the whiteness and took the mail inside, where hot coffee was waiting, and poured myself a cup as I sorted through the stack. Along with the usual assortment of letters, bills, and catalogs was a large manila envelope labeled archer & son, attorneys-at-law. I noticed the postmark: Grand Manitou Island, a popular tourist destination in one of the Great Lakes, halfway across the country from my home.

I sat at my kitchen table sipping coffee, turning the envelope over and over in my hands. What was this about? What did this lawyer want with me? Finally, I took a deep breath and tore it open to face whatever it contained.

I found two letters inside. One bore my name and address handwritten on the front of a thick creamy envelope, the back flap sealed with crimson wax. It was old-fashioned and lovely, reminding me of an invitation from another time and place. (As it turned out, that’s exactly what it was.) The other was a white business-sized no- nonsense envelope. I opened that one first.

Dear Ms. James,

It is with deep regret that I inform you of Madlyn Crane’s death. I am Ms. Crane’s attorney and the executor of her will. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully yours, William Archer Attorney- at- law

Madlyn Crane. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Why did this lawyer regret to inform me of her death? A feeling of undefined, unexplainable apprehension began to cling to me as I picked up the second letter. Why was my heart pounding so? Why were my hands shaking? I broke the seal on the back of the envelope, unfolded the letter, and began reading. It was dated almost one month ago.

Dear Hallie,

Thirty years ago, my daughter and my husband were killed in a boating accident near our island home. Imagine my surprise to find that they—you and your father—are very much alive.

I don’t quite know how to continue this letter. What do I say to my only child, for whom I have grieved all these years?

I’ll start here. When I learned that you were alive, I was as stunned as you must be now. I had the impulse to pick up the phone and call you immediately, but then it hit me: I could not do that. I had no idea what you had been told.

Did you believe I was dead? Did you believe I had abandoned you? Your father could have told you anything. But now you’re a grown woman. If you had any inkling I was alive, you would have found a way to contact me. I came to the conclusion that you and I must have been told the same lie, each believing the other was dead. We were both deceived.

How does a mother rise from the dead and enter her child’s life? I thought of coming to see you, but simply showing up on your doorstep did not seem wise. A letter seemed like the gentlest way to turn your world upside down.

I know you must have many questions, as do I. I’ll tell you a little about myself now, but really, can one sum up a lifetime in a few words? My name is Madlyn Crane. I still live in the house where you were born on Grand Manitou Island. You may recognize my name. I am a photographer. You may have seen my work in various magazines.

I imagine you grew up grieving for me, wishing to have a mother to shepherd you through the heaven that is childhood and the purgatory that is adolescence. I’m so sorry that I was not there for you. But Hallie, every time you wished for a mother’s love, you had it. I loved you before you were born, I loved you during the empty years when I thought you were dead, and I love you now. That will never change. Although you did not know it, you have always had a mother who loved you more than anything.

I know you must be wondering what to think about this—a letter from a stranger who is alleging to be your mother. Is it true? I’m sure it flies in the face of everything you have believed about your life for the past thirty years.

I’m sorry to create such a tempest for you; believe me, I considered staying "dead" to spare you this confusion, but I concluded that the truth, no matter how painful, must be told.

By way of authentication, please look at the photograph I am enclosing. It is you and your father,

Continues...


Excerpted from The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Webb, Wendy Copyright © 2010 by Webb, Wendy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

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(30)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Magnificent!

    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 I've ever read, but one of the best books I've ever read!

    The Tale of Halcyon Crane ended up surprising me in many ways.

    One was the setting, which was Grand Manitour. The way Webb described it made me feel like I was right there taking part in the story the whole time. I loved the fact that in most ways it was very much a time-warped island, one that had no cell service (Oh, the horror of all horrors!) nor cars among other aspects.

    The characters were another part of this story that I adored! They were well-developed, even the dead ones, and it was absolutely fascinating to learn about each and every one's back-story. My favorite out of all them would have to be Hallie James, the main character. Since while she was sweet, kind, and loving, she was also flawed, like any adult or teen. It was interesting to see her truly find herself on the island and let go of her past mistakes and hardships, so that instead she could move on to a place were she completely felt at home.

    The plot and writing of this were both well done and, as mentioned before, truly brought this book to life. There was almost never a dull moment, much the opposite in the fact, since I was always clinging on to each word, dying to find out what would happen next. Plus there were parts in The Tale of Halcyon Crane I barley saw coming, an aspect I love in any story. And I loved the incorporation of ghosts in the novel. It gave it a unique spin that made it live up and well past it's full potential.

    The only problem I had with this book would be the fact that the dialogue sometimes felt a wee bit awkward. But other than that, The Tale of Halcyon Crane is A+ material!

    In all, The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a fabulous mix of ghosts, romance, and one girl finding herself to be more than she ever expected! I am highly look forward to reading Webb's next work. Since I'm sure it'll prove to be the same!

    On a side note, I would like to also add that while The Tale of Halcyon Crane is technically an Adult book with all Adult characters, it's still very much a book that can enjoyed at all ages (Saying that I mean teens, not young children, of course). Further more, this book is pretty much sparkly clean, in cause your curious.

    Grade: A+

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    Loved it!

    My book club read this book, and we all loved it! It' s hard to get 15 girls with all different tastes to all love a book, but this one did it. It's filled with suspense, & it feels like you right there inside the book. Amazing!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2011

    A bit underdeveloped, but a decent weekend read

    Webb comes up with an original and suspenseful ghost story, and her characterization of protagonist Halcyon Crane is touching. The character is well-developed, almost too much so in comparison with the other characters. The book resolves itself rather too nicely in the end, and too quickly for the time she spends developing the story. It's as if she realized after considerable commitment that the story didn't quite flow - but persisted anyways. The book definitely has one of those too-much-information endings - she would have done better to leave out the last two chapters entirely. This would be great for the beach or a weekend read, but I wouldn't recommend it to any serious fans of gothic literature.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    I enjoyed this book A LOT! It's definitely a haunting tale that will delight lovers of the paranormal. The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a creepy story that's brilliantly written. I can't wait to see what Wendy comes up with next!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    A chilling, hopeful tale that will keep you awake

    Wendy Webb cobbles together an interesting cast of characters to create a story that is warm yet chilling, comfortable yet unnerving. You'll fall in love with Halcyon (Hallie) Crane as she explores a world that is new to her, yet to which she has always belonged. You'll want to be Hallie, and yet you'll be somehow glad you are not.

    Hallie learns she is heir to a mansion on a beautiful and affluent resort island. When she visits the place, she finds out there is much more to the story -- to her story -- than she ever imagined. The island's greatest secret, she learns, is Hallie herself. Only she can exorcise the ghosts that haunt the place, literally and figuratively.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    Interesting, but full of distractions

    Yikes. What did she just say? Do people really speak like that? I found myself asking those two questions a lot throughout the book. The story was somewhat compelling, if not all that original. Still, there were moments when the language was so formal, occasionally anachronistic, that I often stumbled over it. These interruptions made the book feel more like work than pleasure, at moments. But if things like that don't bother you, and you're a fan of ghost stories, you would probably enjoy this boook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2011

    AMAZING BOOK

    Overall the story was great. I could not put it down at times. There were quite a few capitalization errors but they meant almost nothing with the fantastic story line. READ IT. : )

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2010

    A good weekend read

    I downloaded this book on my nook without knowing anything about the author. It was a little slow starting out but picked up very quickly. I enjoyed reading this book and there were times that I was a little afraid to "turn the page". I would recommend this as a good curl up with an afghan and read on a cold rainy weekend book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Wonderful Gothic Mystery

    Like Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca and more recently Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, Wendy Webb's The Tale of Halcyon Crane pulls you into a world of family secrets and history. The novel is well passed and atmospheric, and will demand that you loose sleep just to finish it. A great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A real Let Down

    I am from Wisconsin and looked forward to reading this book which takes place on an island in Lake Superior. The descriptions of the island and the way of life is great, but I found the description of the island people to be very shallow. The premiss of the book is a good one but when I got to the end of the book, I was left wanting more. I felt so much more could have been done with this book, not the easy tell the ghosts to leave and live happily ever after. I think the atmosphere was well done with how the island felt and the main character's reaction to the island and her new house. Overall, I got the impression that there was a word limit and when it was hit, the book ended, fast. Maybe her next book will be more on the mark.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2014

    good story

    Not too into supernatural and was surprised with this after the first book as thought it was a continuation of main characters but it wasn't. I think I enjoyed this more than the first book once I got the gist of the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2014

    Deliciously creepy!

    Eerie and suspenseful, until the last page! Cannot wait to read all of her books!

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    Recently heard of this author and, needing a book for vacation,

    Recently heard of this author and, needing a book for vacation, I purchased this title. Quite an intriguing read and could not put it down.   Would highly recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Best book I have read in a long time

    A couple of months ago I was recommended to read this book by a friend while chatting on a run. Just got around to buying on my nook and devoured it in a day and a half. I even read not while MBTA traveling. I usually only read on train and lunch break at work but I couldn't wait to see how story ended so I never put it down. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    This book is a great read! LOVE Wendy Webbs writing. I can SEE

    This book is a great read! LOVE Wendy Webbs writing. I can SEE what she is writing and I read the book in a matter of days!

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Loved this book

    I read the tale of Halcyon Crane in 2 days that's how good it is and I would recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Pulls you in to the story

    This fast past book has just enough chills to your spine to hit a sweet spot of good story with a little edge of your seat. Weaving some great lakes history into the tale is a nice touch.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    I loved this book. Highly recommend!!

    I could not put this book down nor, when it was down, could I stop thinking about when I could go back to reading it. From the first page you are hooked. If you are looking for a great "weekend" book, "go to the cabin and relax" book or "going to the beach and need a book" book, this is it. Its a very easy read and goes quickly. Romance + ghost story = a great book. I cannot wait until Wendy Webb comes out with another book. I will be there to buy it. (Not a book club discussion book as those tend to be "deep" and "intense discussion" types. This is just a great, easy read that takes you on a great journey.)

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  • Posted October 4, 2010

    Just Okay

    I enjoyed the book, but I think that maybe young readers would think that it was chilling or scary. I was hoping that it would be, but it lacked imagination.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews

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