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.
WANNA READ IT? HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN IT!
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.