Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fourteen: The Tale of Halcyon Crane - Wendy Webb

I started to read two other books besides this one - as my Fourteenth in the Cannonball Read. Both just didn't seem right after the Hotel Riviera. The Tale of Halcyon Crane was just the "right" book to follow a "chick lit" type book. Plus - what else are you supposed to do when you loose power in a snow storm - but read!

Hallie James receives a mysterious letter in the mailbox - which impacts the rest of her life. Hallie grew up with her father Thomas outside of Seattle. She was told her mother died when she was very little. Imagine her surprise and confusion when opening that letter she finds out that her mother has been alive this whole time - but just recently died. Hallie James could really be Halcyon Crane?

Hallie questions her father, who is in a nursing home for Alzheimers', but he is not able to confirm too much. Within a few hours of that visit, Hallie is called by the nursing home to say that her father has passed away as well.

Losing both the parent you knew and the parent you never knew with a few weeks of each other - Hallie is at a crossroads. Does she stay in Seattle and mourn her father? Or does she fly to Michigan and learn about her mother and possibly her own past?

Hallie decides to take the second option and arrives in Grand Manitou, a small island in the middle of Michigan's Great Lakes. This island can only be reached by ferry boat and no cars are allowed on it. The main transportation are horse-drawn carts and walking. The houses are all of the Victorian style and create an air of mysterium. Hallie stays at a local inn until she is able to meet the local lawyer - Will - to go over her mother's will. Hallie was warned by Will to not let the locals know why she is visiting Grand Manitou. The incident surrounding her "death" has not been forgotten by the locals.

Hallie and Will, who were friends when they were little, start to explore her life on the island before she left. A housekeeper, Iris, explains her families history and helps Hallie learn more about her mother and her "gift" - to capture souls. As the stories continue from Iris and some unexpectant happenings within the house occur, Hallie realizes that her mother's house is haunted by the ghosts of three little girls who died in a snowstorm back in 1913. Hallie also realizes that she has a "gift" as well. This "gift" allows her to see visions of events and other ghosts of her dead relatives.

Gothic novels are not usually what I read, but I picked this book off the gift away shelf at work. The author's tone was very engaging and I had a hard time putting this book down. Luckily I finished the bulk of the book during the day - so I wasn't too freaked out by the ghosts and the housekeeper during out to be a witch. I thought the town of Grand Manitou played a nice central role in the book's plot as well. In someways the book felt a little "soap opera" like sometimes with the plot. For example - at the end of the book Hallie finds out that Jonah, the local coffee shop owner, is really her half brother. Definitely a good read and I'm curious to read any other books Wendy might write in the future.

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