Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review: Sweetly

Author: Jackson Pearce
Published: August 23, 2011
Hardcover, 310 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past -- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone -- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

Hansel and Gretel was never my favourite fairy tale. Not sure why, since I have a brother, so you'd think I'd relate to the thing, but I wasn't a big fan. So it took me awhile to pick up this book, not interested in it at all. But after reading the rest of the fairy tale retelling series by Pearce, I knew I had to read it, and it became my favourite of the four! Gretchen is adorable, a girl who's only ever known a life without her twin sister and has relied on her brother Ansel for everything. When they were kids, a witch stole their sister when they were on a walk in the woods. Gretchen has been running from the witch ever since then, but now she wants it destroyed. But when they are kicked out of the house and decide to drive to the ocean and start a new life, they are distracted by a small town that sucks them in. Sophia Kelly takes them in as her own, feeding them chocolate and falling for Ansel. Things seem too good to be true and soon sightings of the "witch" cause Gretchen to take things into her own hands. 

Gretchen and Ansel have the kind of relationship that my brother and I have. You don't want to do anything without the other one knowing and you know you're safe when you're near them. This is all fine and dandy, but it's important to have your own life too and you see this gradually transform their relationship as Gretchen gets to know Samuel, a local hunter, and Ansel gets closer to Sophia. The mysteries behind the town kept me guessing. There was no telling which residents were really bad and which had good intentions. The witch coming closer and how that played out was fantastic and tied into the series very well. This book gave me a much better perceptive of Fathomless, the third book in the series, and had a nice lead up to everything that would come together in the end of Cold Spell. Pearce has a fantastic way of weaving together worlds that we know from fairy tales and turning them into a whole new story. 

This new twist on the classic left a good feeling in my heart. I have a whole new perspective on the classic tale and know I'd enjoy it more if I read it again. It's nice when an author can take a well known story and turn it into something completely new and thrilling. This series is perfect for those who know the old tales and also for those who are new to them. The wonderfulness of it is that you don't have to read the original as these stand on their own. Werewolves, magic, and happily ever afters are great selling points to me, and I'd highly recommend this series for those fairy tale lovers out there. This is more gruesome and poignant, much like the original Hans Christian Anderson tales. 

“I should be mad. I should hate her. I should judge her. But there is some madness in love.”

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