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Review of Wendy Webb’s “The Tale of Halcyon Crane”

I had the pleasure of receiving a complimentary copy of Wendy Webb’s The Tale of Halcyon Crane. I recently finished it and finally have the chance to review it.

Because I’m a writer myself, I have a tendency to be overly critical of other writers. Especially ones who have written books similar in theme to mine yet have had the good fortune to have theirs published.

As I read Webb’s The Tale of Halcyon Crane I thought of my poor manuscript The Ghost of Laurie Floyd. It made it to the quarter finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest but it didn’t advance any further than that.

Yet, it seemed to have similar elements to Webb’s: a ghost, a mystery, a haunting. Why hadn’t it found a home yet?

At first blush I felt Webb’s basic premise was good, the writing strong, but where were the hooks? Or the pacing? Mine moves, man! (This was my Green Eyed Critic shining through.)

But as I ventured with Webb’s heroine, Hallie, to Webb’s fictional Grand Manitou Island (which is based on Michigan’s real life Mackinac Island), my inner critic was lulled into submission. I became swept up in the story, the place, the characters.

The book was a fast read, but I wouldn’t say the book is fast paced exactly. (It’s not slow either, though, don’t get me wrong.) It’s just that it moves to its own rhythm.

This snip of Library Journal’s review on Amazon caught my eye:

“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.”

That’s a good comparison, but as I was reading there was another writer, and a specific book in particular, that Webb’s really reminded me of: Mary Stewart’s Thornyhold.

Both The Tale of Halcyon Crane and Thornyhold have ghosts, an inherited house, magic, witches, a mystery, and even romance. They also both share this very interesting rhythm I mentioned before.

It’s not fast, it’s not slow. It’s not super exciting or climactic at any point, not even at the end really. It’s just a subtle flow. One that sweeps you along without you even realizing you’re being swept.

It’s hard for me to describe exactly, but this is the best way I can put it. Have you ever gone to a water park that had a lazy river? It’s not the most exciting or thrilling ride in the park. There’s no steep drops or dramatic, hair-raising turns. You just sit in your tube and flow with the current.

Floating on a lazy river is relaxing, sometimes mesmerizing, and progresses with a sure and steady current that leaves you ultimately satisfied and gratified at the end.

That’s what Webb’s The Tale of Halcyon Crane is like. After I was done and let the story digest for a couple of days, I realized what she’d done was display a very powerful form of writing.

If you like books heavy on atmosphere, laced with romance, and haunted by ghosts, you will find yourself swept up in the mystery of Wendy Webb’s The Tale of Halcyon Crane.


Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win my copy.

Just write “Enter me” or “I’d like to read it” or something similar to enter.

Entries accepted until Monday June 21. I’ll draw a winner Tuesday June 22.

Sorry, only able to mail to U.S. residents.

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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9 thoughts on “Review of Wendy Webb’s “The Tale of Halcyon Crane”

  1. Yeah, it kind of has that lulling effect, doesn’t it? I didn’t think it was too bad for a first time fiction writer.

  2. Andrea: Yes, but I hope I didn’t sound like the lulling effect was bad. It wasn’t at all. VERY pleasant in fact. I happen to love Mary Stewart’s stuff. She’s always been one of my faves. Thornyhold I only read within the last year and at first I was like, “OY! I wish something would hurry up and happen already.”

    Yet, it wasn’t that I was bored. I kept picking the book up eager to spend time with the characters. And when I reached the end I made a contented sigh of satisfaction. That’s how I felt about Halcyon Crane. It was very pleasing and enjoyable and Webb really did a good job. I wrote the review late last night so I hope it didn’t come out harsh!

    And Mommy D: You’re entered! 😉

  3. I want to read this, but I don’t know if I can wait until the 22nd! I’m so excited. Thank youfor the review. I grew up by Mackinac Island. My family house is in Cheboygan Michigan, 20-30 mins from Mackinac. We went their all the time. My grandfather worked at the grand hotel and proposed to my grandmother there. My entire family will be thrilled.

  4. Jessica, LOL! I’ll enter you anyway. If you win you’ll have an extra copy to send to someone in your family who might like it.

    YAY, Jade! Thanks!

    Lisa, you entered! And what is this “Somewhere in Time” movie you speak of? Is that the one with Christopher Reed and Jane Seymour? Or another one? I can see why you want to go. I want to after reading this book. No cars? Sounds GREAT!

  5. Sounds wonderful! Please enter me in the drawing for the northern Michigan ghost book.

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