Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: Sweetly(Fairytale Retellings #2) by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sweetly
Series: Fairytale Retellings #2
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Length: 310 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: purchased

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. 

Sweetly is the second book in a quartet of fairytale retellings and is well named as a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The names have been slightly changed to Ansel and Gretchen but it is obvious what this story is about from the beginning.

Ansel, Gretchen, and Gretchen's twin sister were out playing in the woods near their house when they come across 'the witch'. It chases them and by the time they realize that Gretchen's twin is missing, it is too late. They will never see her again. After the disappearance of their sister and the death of their mother, their father remarries but also dies from grief and their stepmother finally tosses them out once they have turned 18. They leave their home state in search of somewhere they can live without the worry and fear of the woods and witches. They break down in a small town called Live Oak in South Carolina where they meet a girl their age named Sophia who runs a chocolate shop all by herself. They quickly become friends and stay on to help her but soon learn of the town's dark secret: that girls are going missing after Sophia's chocolate festival every year. Wanting to face her fears and save any other girls from disappearing like her twin, Gretchen sets out to find the truth. But is it too much? And will she end up disappearing like the other girls? 

I read Sisters Red, the first in Pearce's 'Fairytale Retelling' series, last year. I thought it was an interesting read with a neat twist but I also had some problems with it. Sweetly on the other hand kept me intrigued the entire time I read it.  I was surprised by the connections between the two very different stories. The author kind of intertwined them in a way that gave Sweetly a very surprising plot and outcome. It was also neat to see the brother of the 'hunter', Sylas Reynolds, from Sisters Red in this story. While I think the author could have taken this retelling in a completely different direction, I enjoyed the small comparisons.
The romance in this book was subtle and endearing. There was no insta-love, thankfully, and no love triangles. It was refreshing to have small love plots intertwined that didn't make me roll my eyes or want to quit reading. 

My Rating:

3.5 stars

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