Thursday, October 27, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

Pub. Date:March 30, 2010
Publisher:Blackstone Audio
Narrator:Cassandra Campbell
Length:9 hrs 50 min

Tis the season for a good ol' spooky read to get in the Halloween spirit, and I love nothing more than ghost stories happening in a grand ol' gothic mansion. Wendy Webb knows her gothic haunted mansions, and I have previously enjoyed her stories The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Vanishing

In The Tale of Halycon Crane, we are introduced to Hallie James living in Seattle, where she has been having a rough time of it. With a failed marriage and a father suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, I imagined that she was feeling somewhat alone in the world. Shocked to receive a letter from famed-photographer Madlyn Crane, claiming to be the mother Hallie thought long-dead, her sole avenue to find out the truth is to do as the letter says and investigate. This leads Hallie to travel in the dead of winter to Manitou Island in Lake Michigan, and seek out her mother's attorney, Will. It is on Manitou that Hallie will find herself, her past and her future. 

Upon arriving on Manitou, Hallie learns that Madlyn Crane has passed away and left her a fortune along with a grand Victorian mansion. Webb writes a good gothic mansion. This particular mysterious manor is a looming three story structure situated up the hill and near a cliff on the remote island. As no cars are allowed on Manitou, the house comes with a stable of horses, a couple of malamutes, an elderly housekeeper, a sad history and a few malevolent ghosts. Between the ghosts and the unfriendly looks that Hallie is getting from the island residents, it doesn't look like she is going to have it any easier on Manitou than she did in Seattle. But there is one bright spot, and that is a blossoming romance with the island attorney, Will.

This story moved along at a meandering pace while we slowly learned Hallie's family history and why/how she left Manitou thirty years ago. Interspersed with the history and haunting is an instalove relationship between Hallie and Will that goes from zero to sixty in the space of a few days. Now I enjoyed the meandering pace and discovering all the skeletons in the closet, and I didn't mind the instalove. Webb is a descriptive writer so I really felt the setting come to life, which is my favorite part of these types of tales. Though once we know all of the secrets, the resolution of the haunting was abrupt and disappointing. I would have liked the ending to have been more of a crescendo, but it lacked the build up and release of adrenaline that I look for in a scary story. 

This was an entertaining read but didn't give me goosebumps the way that Webb's other gothic tales have in the past. So if you have read this one and want something a little more chilling, I highly recommend The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Vanishing.