Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Tale of Halcyon Crane

Rating: 1 of 5 stupid white lacy ribbons

When I was navigating the rift between nonfiction and fiction writing during my undergraduate career I found that I don't have a knack for nonfiction. I am sure it would take practice, diligence, all that sorta stuff, yada, yada, yada, for me to become as adept with nonfiction as I am with fiction. I love fiction-writing. That is truly where my heart is. I was in a class strictly for public relations writing and my teacher told me he could tell I was a fiction writer because my sentences were too long for the PR style of writing. When you're in that sort of field you have to be short, brief, and to the point.

Wendy Webb used to be a journalist. Or maybe she still is. Whatever the case, you can see it in her book. She's trying to take the leap from reporting, nonfiction writing to fiction. And not just any fiction but thriller, ghost story fiction. Sadly enough, she fails at the leap and she fails hardcore.

I was intrigued with the storyline. I think there was a lot of potential. There were random details about the characters that I didn't think pertained to the story. Hallie, or Halcyon, is a divorcee and we briefly meet the ex who left her because, it turns out, he's gay and yet they're still really good friends. That right there made me leery about the main character.

She goes to this island on the Great Lakes to find out more about a mother she had been told was dead but had been alive the whole time. Come to find out, oh my goodness, she inherited this massive mansion and lots of money so, yippee, she gets to leave her boring life in Seattle and live on a creepy little island. That decision right there also made me leery about the sanity of the heroine, Hallie.

Oh and, as an added bonus, the mother's lawyer just so happens to be young and handsome and a perfect match and love interest for Hallie. Gag me. There was no chemistry between these two. In fact, Webb had to have Hallie tell me, the reader, that there was chemistry between them.

Speaking of chemistry...There's a random character named Jonah who, according to Hallie, there is nothing going on between them. Yeah. There was definitely more chemistry there than with the lawyer whose name is, ironically, Will (think about it...he's a lawyer...lawyers help write wills and stuff...Forget it...).

I'm sure Webb is a fantastic journalist. She's just not very good at fiction writing. Let's discuss her writing for a minute.

She uses weird metaphors for smells:

"He smelled of rain and kindness" (88). Tell me, what does "kindness" smell like? I know I've never smelled kindness. I'm thinking this is just a failed attempt at being cute and poetic.

"She smelled of decaying roses and dirt" (109). Decaying roses? Seriously?

There are a smattering of other examples of this. I started marking them down but then I got tired of it.

Also, there is a very amateur tone in the writing. Consider some of the minor details. One of the big ones is here:

"I settled the tray down on my bed and switched on the TV..." (88).

Then, just on the next page it says this:

"I switched on the television, wanting to fill the room with voices..." (91).

Funny thing is that, apparently, in Wendy Webb's world you can turn on the television twice without turning it off. There was never a mention of Hallie turning off the television. This seems like a small detail but it really bugged me because it is something that should have never made it to a published page.

Let's talk about the main conflict: the house Hallie inherited is haunted. Conveniently, no one ever believes Hallie. And Hallie never actually seems too scared. So, in turn, I never get scared. The spooks fall flat because the writing just plain sucks. I don't feel the atmosphere when I'm reading it. I want to know what Megan Chance was smoking or how much she was paid when she called this book "hypnotic, twisting, and vividly imagined."

Ok, last point. The climax is retarded. Apparently all Hallie had to do was tell the three ghost girls that they were being naughty and they needed to go home. Wow. It reminded me of the dumb climax at the end of The Haunting in which the main character seems to befriend the ghosts who have been haunting the house the whole time.

And, wow, Jonah is actually Hallie's half-brother which I figured out when Hallie had a dumb vision about an affair her father had with an innkeeper who is also a medium. You see how ridiculous this story is?

I think, if handed to the right hands, this story could have been good. But Wendy Webb should probably stick to nonfiction journalistic writing.

I thought I was done with terrible books. Apparently not.

Well, I'm done with this review. I want to forget I ever read this book. I give it 1 of 5 stupid white lacy ribbons.


  1. Hey Jake, I've popped my head into your blog every now and then since you sent it to me like, forever ago. I am horrible and keeping up with my own blog, but I'm trying to do better.

    I really enjoy looking through your book reviews. I've been trying to read a bit more myself lately, so it's fun to see what's out there and what's good. I might have to do a few reviews myself. It looks kind of fun.

  2. Tyla! It's been ages! How are things? Book reviews are one of my new addictions. I look forward to finishing books so I can share my thoughts I had whilst reading.