The Dream Thief
In 16th century Venice, a night stalker is seducing young women to death. Young Pina already has her hands full with her hidden charity work in the Jewish ghetto and an overbearing fiancé who’s making moves on her maid. Then her cousin is found to be a victim, and Pina herself is having strange sensuous dreams that are sapping her young life away. Her mother moves her to their country estate and enlists the aid of Pina’s long ago nurse Erta, who now has no teeth but a keen sense of the occult. She finally names Pino’s handsome stalker a Dream Thief who also shapeshifts into the name she gives him, Tallhart. In response to her kindness and interest, Pino’s handsome but life-sucking stalker begins to remember his human past, and the two fall in love. In his Deer guise, he even comes to her rescue when her spurned fiancé turns homicidal and finds an ax.
This sensuous, erotic fairy tale’s swooning and sleepy heroine may not be every reader’s cup of tea (she drinks that beverage often, even though tea wasn’t introduced to Europe until 1605), but at least her female support network, from mother to nurse to handmaid, are all helpful, with nary a cackling stepmother in sight.