“Living in Lily Dale is like playing an endless game of telephone with a paranormal spin.” I had to laugh when I read that sentence on page 261 out of the 287 pages of Something Buried, Something Blue, as it perfectly encapsulates this entire story.
The community of Lily Dale is a real place, located In Chautauqua County, in western New York, 25 or so miles northeast of the Chautauqua Institution and 11 miles south of Dunkirk, on the shores of Lake Erie.
Very little in the town of Lily Dale is exactly as it seems, which does tend to keep people off-balance, most of the time. The unique setting, is after all, home to or of the unknown and unseeable. Spiritualists, in other words.
Spirit is the name for anything strange that happens or doesn’t happen here, rather than using the scientific terms: sensory phenomenology or anosmia–the loss or impairment of the sense of smell. Hyper-anosmia is smelling things that aren’t there, which seems to happen rather often in Lily Dale. Especially in the Valley View Guest House, now operated by the 30-something widowed young mom, Bella Jordan, and her five-year-old son Max.
In the first book of the series, Nine Lives, Bella and Max had been on their way to Chicago to live with her mother-in-law and Max’s Grandmother, when her car broke down on the outskirts of Lily Dale.
After agreeing to stay in Lily Dale through the winter as caretakers of the Valley View Guesthouse plus Chance and her eight kittens, Bella and Max are looking forward to the peaceful off-season after a hectic summer. But then, her next door neighbor, Odelia Lauder, a well-known medium, begs Bella to host a small destination wedding. The bride is Johneen Maynard, a friend of Odelia’s granddaughter, and Odelia isn’t up to the stress.
A sudden October blizzard interrupts everything, and Johneen ends up in the hospital, with an attack of something. And then, Bella’s mother-in-law appears from Chicago! She is shifted to Odelia’s house, as Bella’s house is full to the rafters with a totally strange blend of quirky people. All of this contributes to Bella becoming rather a dithery sort of heroine. Even more confusing (at least to this reviewer) is that about half of the story is written in present tense, and the other half in past tense, but not exactly in historical terms. And not consistently one or the other.
With help and moral support from local veterinarian, Drew, who might be a love interest for Bella, she is able to keep up with the unexpected events at the B & B she’s managing. There are strange noises, tunnels galore and other things that go bump in the night (plus super-talented kittens who apparently can walk through walls) guaranteed to keep everyone guessing. It’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad, but eventually, it all gets sorted out.
Not sure I’d want to stay there, but it’s fun reading about it!
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Crooked Lane Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.