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Authors: Wendy Webb

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The Tale of Halcyon Crane

BOOK: The Tale of Halcyon Crane
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The Tale of Halcyon Crane
Webb, Wendy
Houghton Mifflin (2010)
General Fiction

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
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 . . .

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

Advance Praise for
The Tale of Halcyon Crane


The Tale of Halcyon Crane
is a chilling and imaginative ghost story with a charming Great Lakes island setting, a fittingly spooky hilltop mansion, and a likable heroine who is forced to confront the disturbing secrets of her past and the powerful truths of her present. Webb keeps the reader spellbound as the intertwined tales of several generations of a most unusual family unspool in magical and often eerie ways.”

—Ellen Baker, author of
Keeping the House



The Tale of Halcyon Crane
is a wonderfully creepy gothic tale with a distinctly modern sensibility. Ms. Webb has written a hypnotic, twisting, and vividly imagined story about the terrible and lovely ways the past impacts the present, and how one woman’s discovery of old family secrets reveals new truths about herself and her life, and sets her on a perilous road to a future she could not previously have imagined.”

—Megan Chance, author of
The Spiritualist
An Inconvenient Wife



“An old-fashioned ghost story with a contemporary twist,
The Tale of Halcyon Crane
has it all: an unsolved murder, mystery, family drama, a moody old house on an island, and a feisty orphan who will have you rooting for her from page one. In her debut novel, Wendy Webb weaves a complex, atmospheric tale that will remind you why you first loved reading.”

—Patry Francis, author of
The Liar’s Diary



The Tale of Halcyon Crane
is a wonderful gothic complete with ghosts and witches, graveyards and dreams. It whisks the reader up and into its magic from the first page. Captivating and haunting, this debut proves Wendy Webb is a very gifted storyteller.”

—M. J. Rose, author of
The Memorist
The Reincarnationist



“Set on a mysterious time-warped island in Lake Superior,
The Tale of Halcyon Crane
is a delicious ghost story, by turns chilling and heartwarming. The perfect cozy read.”

—Mary Sharratt, author of
The Vanishing Point
Daughters of the Witching Hill

About the Author

grew up in Minneapolis and has been a journalist there for nearly two decades, writing for most of the major publications in the region. Currently, she lives in the gorgeous Lake Superior port city of Duluth with her spouse, photographer Steve Burmeister; her son, Ben; and their enormous Alaskan malamute, Tundra. She is at work on her next novel. Please visit her website at

The Tale of Halcyon Crane




Wendy Webb


HOLT PAPERBACKS   Henry Holt and Company   New York




Holt Paperbacks
Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Publishers since 1866
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10010

A Holt Paperback
are registered trademarks of
Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Webb
All rights reserved.
Distributed in Canada by H. B. Fenn and Company Ltd.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Webb, Wendy.

The tale of Halcyon Crane: a novel / Wendy Webb.—1st Holt Paperbacks ed.

    p. cm.

ISBN 978-0-8050-9140-3

1. Family secrets—Fiction. I. Title.


PS3623.E3926T35 2010




Henry Holt books are available for special promotions and
premiums. For details contact: Director, Special Markets.

First Edition 2010

Designed by Kelly S. Too

Printed in the United States of America
1   3   5   7   9   10   8   6   4   2

To those who have gone before, especially my brother, Randall Edward Webb, and my grandmother, Elma Katherine Herrala Maki, both of whom I miss every day. Although they’re not here to read this dedication, I know they’re delighted to see it, all the same.


The Tale of Halcyon Crane

· 1

was the only passenger on the ferry crossing to Grand Manitou Island. As I stood on deck holding tight to the railing while we dipped and tumbled on the green, roiling waves, I understood why tourist season grinds to a halt when the November winds blow.

I was called to the tiny island in the middle of the Great Lakes by a dead woman. I traveled there at an unwelcoming time of year to learn the story of her life, hoping to discover my own story as well. A few whitecaps and swells wouldn’t keep me away.

A summons from the dead is a strange way to begin a tale, but, as I have since learned, it’s really no stranger than any other story in my family. As it turns out, I come from a long line of people who hover on the edge of reality. My family history isn’t merely a chronicle of births and deaths and weddings and accomplishments, though it includes those things. No, the stories of my relatives sound more like fairy tales—Grimm’s, unfortunately—with witches, hauntings, and malevolence all wrapped up in regrettable and sometimes bloody mishaps.

Until recently, I knew nothing of this. Growing up, I had an altogether different notion of who I was and where I came from. Then the truth began to reveal itself, as it always does. Truth seeks the light of day, needs it just like we need air, and so it finds ways to seep out of the sturdiest, most skillfully hidden boxes—even those buried deeply in the hearts of the dead.

My truth took its first breath one foggy autumn morning, nearly a thousand miles away from where I stood on the tossing ferry. That particular day didn’t begin with anything out of the ordinary. Isn’t that always the way? Life is thrown into chaos while you’re making your way through mundane everyday tasks—an accident on the way to the grocery store takes your beloved, a heart attack interrupts a lazy Sunday morning, or, in my case, life-altering news arrives with the morning mail.

I awoke in my little bungalow overlooking Puget Sound and lay in bed awhile, listening to the barking of the seals. Then I pulled on a sweatsuit and sneakers and headed outside for my usual morning walk. I had already crossed the street and started up the hill before I noticed the fog settling in, dulling the edges of the world around me.

BOOK: The Tale of Halcyon Crane
13.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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