A Novel and a Journal
There are two things I’m always searching for: 1) a good book to read and 2) a pretty journal to write in. Here are my picks for this month:
I was searching for a new book to read on Amazon and came across “The Tale of Halcyon Crane” by Wendy Webb. I enjoy a good ghost story and this one seemed to include everything I like to read about. Hallie James discovers her supposedly long-dead mother has been very much alive, until recently, and has bequeathed her a grand Victorian mansion on a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes. Hallie travels there in the cold of November to unravel the mystery, but her search raises more questions than answers, not to mention strange visions in the middle of the night.
This haunting story is told in first person from Hallie’s point of view. She’s a likable character, strong yet vulnerable and sympathetic. Hallie, obviously, tells us what is happening in the present. However, we are privy to peeks at Hallie's mother's life through the storytelling of housekeeper, Iris Malone. Iris is more than a housekeeper, she is the keeper of Hallie's family history. With each story Iris tells we are drawn deeper into the mystery of Hallie’s mother’s life. The way author, Wendy Webb, weaves these ancestral stories throughout the book is both skillful and fascinating. Here is an excerpt of one of my favorite passages:
“Over the next three days, Hannah brewed the herbs and leaves with her husband’s morning tea, and, just as Martine predicted, on the third day she did indeed conceive a child. Hannah knew it the moment it occurred, with a jolt that felt to her like an explosion deep within her body. And nine months later, Hannah and Simeon were the parents of triplet girls, Penelope, Persephone, and Patience.”
“I heard about them!” I told Iris. “Will Archer found their graves. They died so young. What happened to them?”
Iris smiled ruefully and shook her head. “This is where the story gets a little bit haunting,” she said slowly, sipping her tea. “You know what people said about Martine, how she always exacted her price for the cures she doled out? Well, in this case, it was true. “Simeon and Hannah loved their daughters fiercely, but, truth be told, something about the girls just wasn’t right. From a very young age, they were devilish and mischievous, pinching one another in their cribs, pushing one another down the stairs, deliberately frightening their mother by pretending one or another of them was dead.”
A shudder crept up my spine.
“They were not like other children of the time, who were, for the most part, obedient and quiet. You never knew what those triplets might do. They gave Hannah and Simeon quite a time of it. “They loved playing hide-and-seek in the house and around the grounds, and poor Hannah was forever looking for them.”
At this, Iris actually chuckled. It was a gurgling, choking sound I didn’t care to hear again.
“It wasn’t just the disobedience,” Iris continued, shaking her head. “It was also their strangeness. It seemed as though the girls were not separate people at all. They never went anywhere alone. They spoke in the same monotone voice, came when you called any one of them, and would stand in front of you with identical looks on their faces. I know it sounds like a fantastic tale, but it seemed as though the girls shared one soul. Of course that could not have been the case.”
“Of course,” I mumbled.
“One more thing you should know about them,” Iris went on, her eyes shining. “They were almost transparent. Their skin was papery thin, so thin you could see blue rivulets of blood rushing through their veins just beneath the surface. Their eyes were the palest of blue, so pale it was nearly not a color at all. And their hair was stark white. It was as though Hannah had given birth to a trio of ghosts.”
I just got a shiver reading this again. Check out "The Tale of Halcyon Crane" if you like well-written prose and ghost stories. I highly recommend it!
A Fairy Journal
I’m always on the lookout for a beautiful journal, and since we celebrate fairies in June, I chose this lovely one. The pages are lined, and ivory colored to look like old parchment. There is a pouch in the back for secret papers, and a red ribbon bookmark sewn into the spine. The vintage illustration on the cover, in (mock) gold relief, is by Henry Justice Ford (1860-1941), and comes from Andrew Lang’s The Olive Fairy Book, compiled in 1907 by the Scottish poet and anthropologist Andrew Lang (1844-1912). Of all the journals I've collected over the years, this is one of my favorites. It feels like an old book in my hands, as if I just plucked it off a shelf in an antique book shoppe, one I just know has a secret passage to a magickal kingdom. If you would like this journal, you can purchase it here.
Thanks for dropping by today. I hope you enjoy these books, if you pick them up!
Until next time, wishing you magick,
*Like ghost stories? Read mine, Gator Eye Lake
Disclaimer: I'm not paid to review any of the books I recommend. I'm just a fan.