Book Review : "The Tale Of Halcyon Crane"

The Tale of Halcyon CraneThe Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One of the pleasures that propels me through to the end of a book like this is the anticipation of the joy I'll feel when I savage it in a review. Having arrived at the end of this turkey, here I go.

Hallie James's father passes away at just about the same time as a letter arrives informing her that her long-lost mother is alive and wants to reconnect with her except that unfortunately she has also just died. I hate when that happens. Nonetheless, our intrepid Hallie ups and treks from her home in Seattle to Grand Manitou Island in Lake Superior so that she can meet with the lawyer who sent her the letter.

Naturally, this lawyer turns out, much to her surprise (but not ours), to have blue jeans and blue eyes. Of course he does. Quick, raise your hand if you've ever heard of this storyline before: fresh from a bad patch in her life, Our Heroine returns to Ye Olde Home Town where ruggedly handsome so-and-so still lives, and sparks fly. Will Our Heroine give in to old fears or will she find love and a new life with Fabio? Oh my, so many hands went up!

Having had time for a latte and to learn she has inherited her late mother's fab house and considerable fortune, Hallie tries to settle in, but it seems that islanders blame her father for staging her death and his own in order to escape to a new life after having apparently murdered her little playfriend. And so, they regard her with suspicion. Oh, and there's ghosts and stuff.

I will admit right here that I quite enjoyed the first half of the book. This is pretty good, I said. The second half should really be fun, I said. Unfortunately, that's when the whole thing started getting laughably silly.

Let's start with Fabio. He's buff, he's nice, he digs her, he's perfect. Of course. After knowing Our Heroine for just three measly days, going to dinner twice, and being rebuffed from so much as a kiss after both dates, Fab finally gets to first base and starts blathering out the L Word like he has electrodes up his butt. But wait, there's more. He's supportive, sweet, present, he really listens and gosh he WORRIES when she's out in the rain for a few minutes. And so I rechristened him Woman-Man because no man acts like this guy. He's more like a best girlfriend with parts. Whee!

Then there's an ancient crone called Iris (get it? she sees all tells all, so IRIS like your in your eye.) She's about a hundred, does windows and floors, cooks a mean stew (really often, and without ever being seen doing it! Wee-oo!) and tells Hallie everything about her family line in a series of daily sessions, but only AFTER she polishes the brass fixtures and stuff. No really. Hallie found her lurking in an upstairs bedroom with the door shut, but she explained that she was Hallie's mom's housekeeper. Hallie just goes, oh, okay, and never inquires about this Iris, never discusses pay or anything, just takes her on without blinking. Moreover, this Iris skipped the chapter on Deportment & Boundaries in the Domestic's Handbook. She's bossy, abrupt and creepy. Jellyfish Hallie just lets herself be bossed and moved around like an old hat rack, with nary a qualm about leaving a total stranger alone in her house with her treasures. In fact, Hallie is a pushover in every scene but one, where she suddenly goes way off character and tells some snippy dopes in a coffee shop where to get off. Apart from that one scene, she accepts anything anyone says and repeatedly ignores her own gut reactions. Wonder Woman she is not.

This book is a mystery, especially to Hallie. About two chapters and 20-50 pages after the reader catches on to a thing, the penny drops for our Miss H. The Big Reveals are no surprise to anyone but her. Honestly, between her and Fabio I found myself laughing out loud at them both. Now, I would be remiss if I didn't take one teensy weensy moment to be petty before I wrap up this paean. Our Heroine hops. A lot. She hops in the shower, hops on her bike, hops hops hops like Peter Cottontail hopping down the haunted cheesy bunny trail. In fact, she and Woman-Man often talk in phrases one expects from toddlers and their stay at home moms. Near the end, she calls off her search for 1oo-year-old Iris lost in the blizzard because lunch is ready.

Do not read this book. I have read it for you, so you don't have to. You're welcome.

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Cloudia said…
Thank you for the thoughtful review!
Sioux Roslawski said…
You DID seem to enjoy ripping it apart. I hate when I like the book, but then it goes bad.
Jennifer Wagner said…
I'm sorry you endured the book, but not really that sorry. Your hilarious review made me laugh. So, thank you :-D
hedgewitch said…
This cracked me up. You are a true warrior(or masochist) to have finished this one. I think your review is probably a hundred times more worth reading than the subject, and when you savage something, you don't leave any bits laying around for the crows.

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