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Originally published Friday, April 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Sequel to "Chocolat" isn't quite as sweet

Although this slow-to-build sequel is less enchanting than its predecessor, Joanne Harris' sensuous writing in The Girl with No Shadow" entertains.

Special to The Seattle Times

"The Girl with No Shadow"

by Joanne Harris

Morrow, 444 pp., $24.95

Joanne Harris has authored nine books, but she's best known for her 1997 novel, "Chocolat," which was later adapted for the screen. Her new offering, "The Girl with No Shadow" (in bookstores Tuesday), is a sequel to "Chocolat" and begins after an interlude of four years.

Vianne Rocher, a confection maker, leaves the little French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, renounces her supernatural powers, drops her old identity and adopts the name of Yanne Charbonneau. She arrives in Paris, accompanied by her two daughters, 12-year-old Anouk and 4-year-old Rosette. Soon she opens an unpretentious little chocolaterie in Montmartre that initially attracts little attention.

Yanne's landlord, a good-natured, affluent man named Thierry Le Tresser, begins to court her. In due time, he gives her an engagement ring. She accepts it somewhat reluctantly, ever mindful of the fact that she hasn't yet revealed her past. Nor is she sure of her feelings for him.

In the midst of all this, Zozie de l'Alba, a charismatic identity thief with a bohemian lifestyle, comes into Yanne's life. Under Zozie's influence, the chocolaterie gets a makeover and she sets about charming the neighborhood into visiting the shop.

Yanne is happy to focus on baking once again and trusts Zozie, blissfully unaware of her motives. Zozie, as it turns out, has the powers of a witch. In time, she befriends Anouk and secretly corrupts her.

The appearance of Roux, a former lover of Yanne, leads to tension between him and Thierry. Now Yanne must choose between her two men and rescue her fragile new life from the evil effects of Zozie.

Although this slow-to-build sequel is less enchanting than its predecessor, Harris' sensuous writing — a feast of bonbons and truffles — entertains.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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