cover image The Awakening

The Awakening

Nora Roberts. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-27261-4

Bestseller Roberts (Shadows in Death) launches a fantasy trilogy with this heartwarming story of a woman finding her true self across parallel worlds. Philadelphia teacher Breen Kelly, 26, has lived under her mother’s thumb ever since her father disappeared more than 15 years ago. So when Breen unexpectedly comes into money, she quits her much-resented job and escapes her mother’s reach by traveling to Ireland. There she stumbles through a portal into a fantasy world, Talamh, where she discovers she is not the disappointing mouse she’s always believed herself to be, and that she may be the key to winning a forthcoming war between the faerie people of Talamh and an evil god. After learning the secret history of her family, including the truth of what happened to her father, Breen must decide whether to return to her world or stay in Talamh to fulfill her destiny. While Breen is well-shaded and empathetic, the characters around her are thinly sketched. The narrative feels lopsided as Roberts spends more time on Breen’s mundane achievements in Philadelphia and Ireland than her adventures in Talamh, leaving the political plot underdeveloped, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers equal parts frustrated and eager for more. This enjoyable installment has its flaws, but it also promises good things to come. (Nov.)