Molly K.B. Hunt's Reviews > The Girl with No Shadow

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris
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Sep 12, 2010

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bookshelves: on-my-bookshelf, not-fantasy

3.5 out of 5

Chocolat, the prequel to The Girl with No Shadow (The Lollipop Shoes in the UK), is one of my all-time favorite books, so imagine my surprise and excitement when I learned that a sequel had been published in 2007. Three years seems like a long time to miss out on the sequel to one of your favorite books, except that the ending of Chocolat was wholly satisfying and a sequel didn't seem part of its masterful recipe. So while I was excited to read the sequel, I also harbored a sense of trepidation for how this second book would affect the first.

That feeling did not leave me as I read the book. Harris' style had clearly evolved in the eight years since Chocolat was published, and since I reread Chocolat just before reading this, the difference jarred me. Also, things that had worked well as subtle implications in the first book were written as open and obvious in this one, which took away a quality I really loved about Chocolat. Okay, not off to a good start.

As I read on, however, the story really came into its own, to the point where I was reading in every spare minute and staying up FAR past my bedtime. It really is an enthralling book. I was moving past my trepidations and objections to the changes between this and the first book when I reached the end of the story, at which point some cliches entered in and disrupted the distinct flavor of Chocolat that The Girl with No Shadow had enhanced. There was a cliched speech and a cheesy moment at the ending, completely out of place with Harris' unique and memorable style. The end, like the beginning, was all bitter and no sweet for me. All the changes in storyline, characters and writing that I had accepted during the story became unacceptable to me. I don't wish to provide spoilers for Chocolat or this book, so I won't mention them in detail.

In the end, I feel that this storyline deserved to belong to another set of characters, because it really is a well-written, thoughtful and intriguing novel. It's really the fact that it's supposed to be a sequel to Chocolat that diminishes its quality, because they seem like a pair of mismatched socks or the halves of a broken mug that have been glued together with pieces missing. If you haven't read Chocolat, I suggest reading it and then taking a lengthy break before reading TGWNS. If you have read Chocolat, then don't make my mistake of rereading it right before reading this one. Taken separately, you will enjoy both more.

Interestingly, another book seems likely based on the end of TGWNS. While I felt it didn't suit Chocolat`s storyline and characters, it's still a great book overall (hence the 3.5 stars) and I look forward to reading more about Vianne and Anouk and the others.
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