The Dream Spinner
by Gail Crease, paranormal (2000)
Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12929-1


Atmosphere - that's what this book has in spades. It manages to create a fairytale-like utopia in a romance where magic and love sometimes aren't distinct. Reading The Dream Spinner is like... I don't know, watching a Tim Burton fantasy when he is in a good mood. Or reading a gentle adult fairy tale.

Destiny, fate, a gentle old lady playing matchmaker, and a spinning wheel - this story is Rumpelstiltkin-meets-Sleeping Beauty.

Kate Pedigrew is a stained glass artist. Lately, she is troubled by dreams and experiences this strange compulsion to get a spinning wheel. Not just any wheel, but the spinning wheel, one that she'll know when she sees it. After traveling up and down Vermont, she finally discovers the one she has been looking all over for in an antique store.

Cole Beresford is an art historian who is like Fox Mulder on an antique-hunting spree. He has been looking for the Lockton spinning wheel for years, trying to beat a villainous rival to it. The Lockton wheel is magical and can bestow upon its owner great gifts. (For Kate, she creates genius designs in her sleep and she becomes more beautiful by the day.) With the obligatory fine print of a Cost, of course.

Cole meets Kate and is smitten, and she he. They begin a series of pleasant dates, but little does Cole know that the object of his search is closer than he thinks. Things get a bit complicated when Kate starts communicating with the ghost that comes along with the wheel.

It sounds messy, doesn't it? It is, in a sense - there's a romance, a ghost, a curse to be lifted, family rifts to repair, so many things, but the author makes all these elements fall into place so nicely. She has a way with gentle prose. The scene where Kate discovers the magic of the wheel is so well-written that I could almost feel the tangible magic in the air and hear Kate's sigh as she falls into a magic-induced sleep. And is that the sound of ghostly bells tinkling in the heavy air?

Where she falters is dealing with the sagging middle. There is only so much of Cole and Kate's dates before things become monotonous. Both are shy, hesitant characters dipping their toes in this tentative relationship, but somehow the author just couldn't vary the pace or the relationship dynamics to keep things from becoming repetitive.

Only during the last third do things finally come to life once again. And it's a spectacular tale of destiny, sacrifice, family, and love. I find myself wiping tears from my eyes as I read these final few chapters, for not only are these chapters wonderfully whimsical, they seem to create beautiful poetry out of the notion of enduring love. A love which even time and all the pain and suffering in existence couldn't break. How's that for poetry? Just lovely.

I find The Dream Spinner a haunting, eerie, yet romantic tale of magic and idealistic love. It is definitely a magical love story, at places poetic, sometimes haunting, always romantic. It's just that the sagging middle... oh well.

Rating: 89


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