An old fashioned ghost story with a contemporary twist

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Genre Fiction finalist:

The Tale of Halcyon Crane
Wendy Webb
Henry Holt & Company
Category Sponsor: Marvin Windows & Doors


An excerpt from The Tale of Halcyon Crane:

I was called to the tiny island in the middle of the Great Lakes by a dead woman. I traveled there at an unwelcoming time of year to learn the story of her life, hoping to discover my own story as well. A few whitecaps and swells wouldn’t keep me away.

A summons from the dead is a strange way to begin a tale, but, as I have since learned, it’s really no stranger than any other story in my family. As it turns out, I come from a long line of people who hover on the edge of reality. My family history isn’t merely a chronicle of births and deaths and weddings and accomplishments, though it includes those things. No, the stories of my relatives sound more like fairy tales – Grimm’s, unfortunately – with witches, hauntings, and malevolence all wrapped up in regrettable and sometimes bloody mishaps…

Told that her mother died in a fire decades earlier, Hallie James discovers that her mother, Madlyn, was actually alive until very recently. In search of answers, Hallie journeys to the place where her mother resided, an isolated island located in the Great Lakes. Upon her arrival, the community greets her with cold stares; once her identity is discovered, their unwelcoming behavior turns to astonishment. As she spends more time on the eerie island, she discovers her dark family secrets and begins to experience strange occurrences.


Wendy Webb lives in Duluth, where she is the editor-in-chief of Duluth~Superior Magazine, a lifestyle monthly. This is her first book.


“A rare literary page turner; it does not read like a first novel.” – Minnesota Book Awards Preliminary Judge

“Debut novelist Wendy Webb gives both Bram Stoker and Stephen King a run for their travel budget, inventing an island in the Great Lakes that can’t be matched for pristine natural beauty, richness of history, touristic amenities… and sheer supernatural terror… The novel…gives a more generous account of how the spirit of a beautiful place can complexly affect a human being, for both good and ill. Wendy Webb is a professional journalist, first and foremost. Like those journalistic masters Dickens and Twain before her, she knows that to write good travel prose, you must give a vivid account of both the demons you find along the way and the demons you bring along with you.” – Michael Alec Rose, BookPage

“A chilling and imaginative ghost story with a charming Great Lakes island setting, a fittingly spooky hilltop mansion, and a likable heroine who is forced to confront the disturbing secrets of her past and the powerful truths of her present. Webb keeps the reader spellbound as the intertwined tales of several generations of a most unusual family unspool in magical and often eerie ways.” – Ellen Baker, author of Keeping House


Bethanne Patrick, WETA’s “The Book Studio”, talks to Wendy Webb about Webb’s book, The Tale of Halcyon Crane.



Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Each year in the weeks leading up to the Minnesota Book Awards gala, all Minnesotans are invited to take part in voting for the Readers’ Choice Award. Vote online now through the end of March at Please, only one vote per person.

Have you read The Tale of Halcyon Crane? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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