FACE THE FIRE

Nora Roberts, Author . Jove $7.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-515-13287-8

The final installment in Roberts's Three Sisters trilogy (after Heaven and Earth), which is set on a New England island called Three Sisters, lacks the compelling emotional drama that has won her such a loyal readership. After being abandoned by her lover 12 years before, white witch Mia Devlin has developed a charming bookstore and cafe, a spectacular garden and a close circle of friends, all of whom share her involvement in the Craft. Only an age-old curse mars Mia's idyllic existence and threatens the future of the island itself. Then her former flame, Sam Logan—himself a witch—returns to the island, determined to win Mia back. The paranormal elements that tastefully flavored a number of Roberts's earlier titles is a bland additive here, creating the book's only suspense and filling scene after scene with discussions and manifestations of magic. Those who don't believe in spells, charms or paranormal wolves may find it hard to enjoy this story and the hokey chanting that comes with it ("No one who passes now need fear. You can do no more harm here"). As always, Roberts's prose is gracefully styled, and her storytelling is deft despite the weak material. But with perfect jobs, perfect homes, perfect hair and the force of the Craft behind them, Mia and company are barely human enough to move the reader's heart. (June)

Forecast:Though it would take a far weaker book than this to so much as threaten the Roberts publishing juggernaut, this is one case where word-of-mouth may actually hurt her sales.

Reviewed on: 05/06/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
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