BOOKS: BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

SEQUELS. PREQUELS. SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER TO LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE

Writing a sequel to a rare, magical novel can be a dodgy undertaking, and it's not hard to see why. The fine first novel gets done, let's say, because an enchanted story taps the author on the shoulder and titanic characters rage to be let loose. The sequel trundles along, often as not, merely because writer and readers want to spend more time with people they've grown fond of. The forces at work aren't as powerful, and enchantment can be elusive. It could be a letdown, for instance, to learn that Ishmael, rescued by the Rachel, returns to New Bedford and...

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