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The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb is a spooky ghost story.  Spooky.  Creepy.

One day out of the blue Hallie James receives a bewildering and shocking missive from an attorney on Grand Manitou Island, Michigan, that shatters everything she ever knew about her past and about her father.  The letter claims that Hallie's mother, Madlyn Crane, a famous photographer, has not been dead for thirty years as her father, who refused to speak of her mother, maintained.  What's more the lawyer says Crane has only recently died and he needs to speak to Hallie regarding her mother's will.  Hallie finds that not only did her mother, Annie, not die in a house fire three decades ago, but that wasn't even her name--and Hallie and her father have been living under assumed names all these years.  Unfortunately her father's unable to shed light on why he fled the island all those years ago and faked their deaths because he's deep in the weeds of early onset Alzheimer's.

Upon her return to the island in blustery November, Hallie finds a close knit, insular, suspicious community and an isolated, long extinct way of life.  From the moment she sets foot on the island, Hallie sees visions and strange things happen to her.  Can Hallie see ghosts and visions of the past?  Is someone playing tricks on her?  Or is she going mad?

Hallie is immediately confronted by the cloud of mystery and suffering that hangs over the island due to the thirty year old unsolved murder of one of Hallie's childhood girlfriends in which her father was heavily implicated.  She decides that for her to live peacefully on the island, she needs to get to the bottom of the mystery in order to clear her father's name.  Meanwhile, Iris, the ancient and creepy housekeeper who kept house and history for Hallie's mother's family tells Hallie the spooky, odd, and tragic tale of her great-grandparents, her grandfather and Hallie's own tale--the tale of Halycon Crane.

In general this is a well-drawn story.  There are places the writing is a bit sappy with its turn of phrase, while in others it rises above this to show the author's potential.  Ghost story lovers who appreciate a splash of romance with the spooks and scares will love this tale.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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