The Girl with No Shadow (aka Lollipop Shoes) is a sequel to the wonderful novel, Chocolat and proves the point that when you have a great thing, don’t try to add to it. Where Chocolat is a rich, dark seductive treat, TGWNS is a waxy, flavorless Tootsie Roll.
Our heroine from Chocolat, Vianne Rocher, has set up a chocolate shop in Montmartre, a village on the outskirts of Paris, with her daughter, Anouk, now 11, and a new addition to the family, Rosette, age 4. There are hints that they left Lansquenet because of some magic gone awry, performed by one of the children, both of whom have obviously acquired their mother’s talents. Vianne has changed her name to Yanne Charbonneau and, in addition to giving up her identity, has lost her passion and flair. She’s settled for a quiet, decidedly un-magical life and deals daily with the stress of keeping in check her daughters’ witchy tendencies.
The antagonist is a self-proclaimed identity thief and witch, who blows into town on an ill wind and worms her way into Yanne’s life. Trouble ensues, good vs. evil, yada yada yada.
It’s impossible not to compare this novel with Chocolat; but it’s almost as though they were written by different authors. Where the magic in Chocolat was subtle, just a hint of it sprinkled here and there, Harris hits us over the head with it in TGWNS, with glamours, charms, cantrips, spells, incantations and herbal potions on every page. It becomes quite tedious. The characters are flattened out. The plot has a couple of nice twists and surprises, but by the time they came around, I really didn’t care about them.
Harris has written some wonderful books in addition to Chocolat – Coastliners and Three Quarters of the Orange were favorites of mine. This one fell short. Way short. Now I’m off to have some good dark chocolate to cleanse my palate. (2/5)