Book Review- Sweetly
by Jackson Pearce
Hardcover, 312 pages
August 23rd 2011
by Little, Brown
series: Fairytale Retellings #2
SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED.
Summary: Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.
Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.
Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.
Hansel and Gretel has always been one of my favorite fairy tales so Sweetly has been on my wish list ever since Jackson announced it after her first retelling of Little Red Riding Hood entitled Sisters Red. These two books fit hand in hand and follow Jackson’s dark, modern modernization of childhood favorites. Sweetly begins with Ansel and his twin sisters playing in the woods near their home, dropping the yellow candies no one likes along the way. Out of the deep appears a witch with yellow eyes and big teeth scaring the three siblings to a chase,and it’s not until they get home that they realize one of the twins is lost forever. The two surviving brother and sister Ansel and Gretchen face the guilt and fear every day, and eventually one day are kicked out of their home by their step-mother. They pack up their belongings and travel across country towards the ocean until their car breaks down in the deep south town of Live Oak, South Carolina.
Here’s where I fell in love. The town has that kitsch retro feel of small town Americana frozen in time. The locals distrust anyone from the outside. Lucky for Ansel and Gretchen the chocolatier on the outskirts of town needs some help and can help pay for Jeep repairs. Lured by the dreamy vanilla smell and handmade delicacies they decide to stay with Sophia, the patron saint of candy until her famous Chocolate Festival. But as secrets begin to unfurl and sea shells mysteriously show up on the porch, Gretchen is sure there’s more than meets the eye to Sophia.
Enter in Samuel, the woodsman everyone calls crazy. He’s a loner and packs a rifle which comes in handy when Gretchen decides to fight back against the witch in the forest she’s always feared. Sweetly is an atmospheric story about family loyalty and the mystery of twins with just the perfect dash of romance and a sprinkle of darkness. You’ll fall into this mouth watering tale head first and want to come back for more. To see more about the world of Sweetly visit our Etsy treasury here and Jackson’s microsite here. Recommended for teens age 16 ands older due to swearing, graphic violence and mention of sex.