M2D4 Toe Tag: Dream Stalker by Nancy Stalker

Dream Stalker lists as a paranormal cozy mystery. It’s October in Salem, Massachusetts and Mrs. Lily Scott, wiccan, herbalist, and dream walker, is up to her neck in trouble. It started with a childhood friend, she suicided in front Lily. That was followed with two murders, arson, another suicide, and an accident that threatens the life of the best woman Lily knows, her sister Ann. Lily follows a trail of clues to protect the women she cares for, including the one she loves most, her own daughter.

Bottom line: Dream Stalker is for you if you like your mysteries clean, your witches wiccan, and your fiction feminine.

Listen here or wherever you get Mysteries to Die For Podcast

Strengths of the story. Gardner’s female characters are the gems of this story. All major characters and most minor are female, with a large part of the story arc dedicated to Lily recovering the relationship with her sister and her daughter. That puts this mystery solidly in the category of Women’s fiction. Each character is truly unique and stays true to themselves throughout the telling – for better or for worse. Salem, MA in October gives a colorful backdrop for a story of quiet deceit and subtle treachery. It certainly made me curious about the town, which is exactly what a good author does. The story lives up to the Cozy name with clean language and roots in the heritage and traditions of Wiccan. A sophisticated hand compares and contrasts Wiccan to Catholicism, showing that when you look for differences, that is what you see. But when you look for goodness, beauty is abound.

Where the story fell short of ideal. The story is listed as a paranormal. Readers who prefer moderation in paranormal will appreciate Gardner’s sparing hand with Lily’s dream walking. As a reader who loves the power and imagination of a world beyond our own and prefers it in a story the same way I want chocolate syrup on my ice cream, I was left wanting more. In my opinion, framing this story as a women’s fiction cozy mystery better casts the light of the story. Lily has a lot of work to do if she is going to solve the mystery, save the shelter her sister runs, and repair the relationships most vital to her.

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