The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb ★★☆☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog


Primary Genre(s): Mystery, Paranormal, Ghost Story
Published: 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Page count: 328 (9:25 hours)
My Format: Audiobook via Hoopla
Cover: Haunting
Pacing: Good
Ending: Okay
Would I recommend it: Maybe
Commission Link:  Buy The Tale of Halcyon Crane

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis from Goodreads
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 to where her mother lived, a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes. Islanders fix her with stares and unabashed amazement as they recognize why she looks familiar and Hallie realizes her family’s secrets are enmeshed in the history of this strange place.

My Thoughts
I have had the unique experience of reading all of Wendy Webb’s published books in reverse order. My first book was Daughters of the Lake and I loved that one. The second book was The End of Temperance Dare and I loved it, too. Next was The Vanishing which was just okay, followed by The Fate of Mercy Alban which was good, but not great. It has become clear to me that this author honed her craft and her books have gotten better over time. Click the titles about to read my reviews of her previous books.

Now, I have finally gotten the opportunity to read her very first book. Here are my pros and cons for The Tale of Halcyon Crane:


  1. This author has the most unique character names! So creative.
  2. The family history was interesting to me personally. I’m a big genealogy buff, so family history stories appeal to me.


  1. What does possibility taste like? What does forgiveness smell like? Perhaps I am nitpicking here but it seems weird to me when I read a sentence that says something like “I hugged him and he smelled like warm rain, sweat, and forgiveness.” (This is my version of the sentence, I didn’t capture the whole sentence as I was listening – but forgiveness was definitely one of the “smells”). Another sentence described a kiss as tasting like possibility. You might feel like something is possible, or even anticipate possibility… but taste it? I don’t know. This kind of odd, descriptive writing drives me nuts. It is like the author is trying too hard and it ends up sounding pretentious.
  2. I hate “instantly in love” story lines in general and Webb uses that a lot in her novels, including this one.
  3. There are no real scares. When I read a ghost story I want to be scared, or at least a little unsettled. Even the heroine in the story seemed unimpressed by the weird things that were happening in her house. If she wasn’t disturbed by the ghosts, why would I be? I felt like I was reading a newspaper account of a haunting – a “just the facts” reporting of an event. Interestingly, Webb used to be a journalist and her non-fiction background was very evident in this novel.
  4. The conclusion to the story was just odd… too simple and too many random revelations coming to light.
  5. Most of Webb’s novels are pretty formulaic – old house, unknown family history, caretaker that knows more than they are telling, lingering ghosts that must be driven from the house, instantaneous love matches. This book is no different. Honestly, until you get to Daughters of the Lake, that is literally the plot of every book.

As ghost stories go, this one was pretty benign. Not much happens and there are no scares at all. I really can’t recommend this book unless you are a huge fan of the author. I don’t regret reading all of Webb’s novels, but I definitely prefer her more recent work and I will continue to read her new releases.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Tale of Halcyon Crane. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

(image from Goodreads)

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