Review: ‘The Tale of Halcyon Crane’ makes a great summer mystery read
Jul 07, 2019 10:38AM
By Dorothy Schreyer of the Journal Advocate - July 7, 2019
Set on an island in the middle of the Lake Superior, “The Tale of Halcyon Crane” is a good, old-fashioned Victorian ghost story. Which makes it a perfect summer read!
Hallie has been raised by her single father, whom she adored and who was adored by the community where they have lived the last twenty years or so. Her dad was a trusted teacher, and until he succumbs to Alzheimer’s had been just a logical math teacher, or so Hallie always thought.
One day she gets a letter from a lawyer with another letter inside from a woman who claims to have been Hallie’s mother. Hallie thought she had died when she was five. When she visits her dad and asks him about it, he responds with her mother’s name, the correct one, not the one he had said was her name for all of these years! Totally confused as he slips back into the haze of Alzheimer’s, she plans to ask more questions at a later date, but when he dies in his sleep she isn’t given the chance.
So, what is a girl to do but go to where the letters came from and try to find out the truth. Besides, when you inherit a house on an island, well you have to take a look at it anyway!
Soon Hallie is meeting with the local lawyer who handled her mother’s estate and other legal needs. But, he tells her not to reveal to the other people in town who she really is, the daughter of Madlyn Crane, a famous photographer who had a special knack of capturing people and somehow revealing things that they didn’t always want revealed. Why? Because everyone in town believes Hallie to be dead! Lost to a boating accident with her father when she was five.
Shortly after Hallie moves into the house that her mother left her, the house that had been built by an ancestor whom Hallie had never heard of. She meets an older woman who comes to the house to be her housekeeper, explaining that she had been her mother’s housekeeper for years. Although Iris seems ancient to Hallie’s eyes, she can’t deny the idea of someone taking care of her isn’t a bad thing. In addition to Iris feeding her, the woman offers her something no one else can give her: Family history! Slowly Hallie begins to hear the story of her ancestors. While listening to Iris talking, Hallie can visualize everything she is hearing, just as if she is there with the people in the story.
Hallie learns of Hannah and Simeon Hall, the first of her family to come to the island. For years Hannah struggled to give birth to a child and supposedly had visited the local “witch” to conceive and bear a child. How that event and all children born from that line of children would be cursed. She learns of the set of triplets that were born after the visit to the island witch, how strange they were, these three identical, pale, blue eyed, fair skinned little girls. Iris also tells of how they died together when a freak storm hit the island and trapped them outside to freeze to death.
Hallie has already experienced strange things even before hearing this story, like hearing a children’s jump rope jingle when no one is around. Like seeing a little girl in white with a blue ribbon sash on the stairs wanting her to come play. Then she starts dreaming of the little girls, sometimes so vividly she isn’t sure if she was dreaming or seeing them in a vision.
Hallie finds out, too, why her father was afraid for her safety if she stayed on the island as a child, and how the death of one of her playmates pushed him to the extreme measure of faking their deaths and starting over someplace else where no one would know them.
But, it isn’t all ghosts and old stories for Hallie. After all, she is single and new to the island, so as you would imagine this brings out the single guys. There is a love story that develops and runs along with the ghost story, so that helps lighten the mood, a bit.
Not only is Hallie drawn into the stories Iris weaves around the history of Hallie’s family, but I was, too. Not only did I enjoy reading the book, but also listening to the audio version, which is available to download from Overdrive and the Across Colorado Digital Consortium digital collection.
Dorothy Schreyer is a Library Associate at Sterling Public Library. To read the original post and related reviews follow this link to the Journal-Advocate website. https://www.journal-advocate.com/2019/07/06/the-tale-of-halcyon-crane-makes-a-great-summer-mystery-r...