Thursday, November 17, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Pub. Date: March 30th, 2010
Length: 9 hours, 50 minutes

Genres: Mystery/ Fiction/ Paranormal


A young woman travels alone to a remote island to uncover a past she never knew was hers in this thrilling modern ghost story

When a mysterious letter lands in Hallie James's mailbox, her life is upended. Hallie was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire decades earlier. But it turns out that her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently. Why would Hallie's father have taken her away from Madlyn? What really happened to her family thirty years ago?

In search of answers, Hallie travels to the place where her mother lived, a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes. The stiff islanders fix her first with icy stares and then unabashed amazement as they recognize why she looks so familiar, and Hallie quickly realizes her family's dark secrets are enmeshed in the history of this strange place. But not everyone greets her with such a chilly reception―a coffee-shop owner and the family's lawyer both warm to Hallie, and the possibility of romance blooms. And then there's the grand Victorian house bequeathed to her―maybe it's the eerie atmosphere or maybe it's the prim, elderly maid who used to work for her mother, but Hallie just can't shake the feeling that strange things are starting to happen . . .

In The Tale of Halcyon Crane, Wendy Webb has created a haunting story full of delicious thrills, vibrant characters, and family secrets.

What Did I Think About the Story?

This is the third novel I've read/listened to by Wendy Webb (I've also read The Vanishing and The Fate of Mercy Alban) and what I've really come to appreciate about her novels is her utter ability to spook me. She has this way of using bumps and creaks and whispers to raise the hair on the back of my neck and I just find that so delicious! She has this innate ability with descriptions to completely wrap the reader/listener into the story, which can be a little unnerving given the author's propensity for thrills and chills. Before beginning any of her books I know, from the descriptions and past experience, that I'm in for a treat, and The Tale of Halcyon Crane was no exception.

I actually purchased a paperwork copy of the book years ago, but already having three (!) paperback books I'm reading right now, as well as an eBook, I thought I'd have a better chance of getting to The Tale of Halcyon Crane more quickly if I listened to it on my commute. The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, was exceptional and hit all the qualities that I've come to love in an audiobook narrator. She was able to keep the tension taut when the story required it, but also give levity and humor to the descriptions and dialogue when needed. I think my absolute favorite part of her narration, which is partly her skill and partly Wendy Webb's wonderful writing, was her depictions of the giggling and whispering ghosts, and, most of all, their spooky, slightly sinister, singing. I am not ashamed to admit that there were a few times I got a slight shiver when listening to those portions of the narration.

As you can tell from the book synopsis, there are quite a few family mysteries for our main character, Hallie, to discover and work through during the story. Being that there are quite a few paranormal elements involved, I wasn't able to successfully guess where the story would take me, which I very much enjoyed. I just sat back, went along for the ride, and delighted in learning about the inhabitants of this isolated island, both in the present and the past, and how so many of them connected in unexpected ways. I think the author did a remarkable job of fleshing out all the characters we come across, both with vivid descriptions and through the various paranormal gifts Hallie and her family members possess, as well as completely immersing the reader in this somewhat confining, claustrophobic environment.

The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a wonderfully spooky story about learning who  you really are, coming to terms with your past, and laying old ghosts (both figuratively and literally) to rest. I was already a big fan of Wendy Webb's writing and continue to be so, but more than anything else I am so excited to have found an audiobook narrator that I love. I'll definitely be reading and listening more to both of these women in the future.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I like it, although I'm not really sure who the girl on the front is supposed to be. Hallie was very young when her father took her away from the island, so I don't think that's her. It could be one of the myriad of ghosts that inhabit her family home, but I'm not sure which one would most fit that figure. However, no matter who it is supposed to be, the ghostly eeriness is evident and I think it fits the overall feel of the novel very well.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

I borrowed a copy of the audiobook of The Tale of Halcyon Crane from my local library using the Overdrive app. All opinions are my own. You can find out more information about the book, including other reviews and where you can purchase your own copy, on Goodreads.


  1. I think a great narrator can really elevate a book. Love audio books!

    1. I totally agree! I've really started to love audiobooks this year because I've just had a wonderful run of excellent books!