My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hallie James is living and working near Seattle, where she was raised by her single father, now in a nursing home. During the course of one fateful week, everything she thought she knew about her life turns out to be a fabrication. Hallie travels to the Lake Superior Island of Manitou, where she was born, and very, very gradually, she learns the history of the family she never knew she had. There seems to be only one person on this quaint island, where no motor vehicles are allowed, who is interested in helping Hallie; as it turns out, Will was a friend during her unremembered childhood, and is now the local attorney. The rest of the islanders treat her with thinly veiled hostility. No sooner does Hallie disembark on Manitou than she begins to experience unsettling occurrences. Within a few days, she’s moved into the Hill mansion (her legacy from her unknown mother), positive that she’s seeing ghosts, who throw up some serious interference with her attempts to come to terms with who she is. It isn’t long before it seems Hallie’s very life is in danger. Thankfully, she learns that she can trust Will, and it’s this blooming relationship that gives her the courage to persevere.
Wendy Webb spins a convincing tale for Hallie, in which the island, which appears frozen in time, is as important a character as she is. Apparitions, poltergeist activity, auditory manifestations, creepy family folklore, a spooky wise woman, and three generations of unexplained deaths all combine to create a deliciously uncanny atmosphere that pervades Hallie’s every move. The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a praiseworthy first novel, recommended to readers who enjoy the paranormal without all the gore. Brava, Wendy Webb!