Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch-like monster 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.
When their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out as teens, they stumble upon a sleepy Southern town and are invited to stay with Sophia Kelly at her sweet shop. Sophia molds candied magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.
Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel finally start to forget their haunted past - until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel, who gives Gretchen a reason to fear Sophia: girls have been vanishing at Sophia's annual chocolate festival, taken by the insatiable 'witch' of Gretchen's nightmares. Can Gretchen save herself, the girls of Live Oak, and Sophia?
Of one thing, Gretchen is certain: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Hansel and a girl named Gretel. Or at least . . . that's what we thought. For fans (including myself) of Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red novel, they will straight away want to devour Pearce's new companion novel SWEETLY and it proves to be one of the sweetest and one of the most deliciously-delightful modern retelling's of Hansel & Gretel that I've ever read so far. How does the author do it? Who knows . . . but she has talent!
SWEETLY tells the tale of a brother and sister named Ansel and Gretchen, whom have always been traumatized by the mysterious disappearance of Gretchen's twin sister, who'd supposedly been captured by the 'witch' while they were being chased through the woods as younger children. Several years later, this brother and sister duo have been kicked out of their own home by their wicked stepmother - mostly due to their father's sudden death - and now must fend for themselves and ultimately fight for their lives as they arrive in a town full of strangers, and begin to live with Sophia Kelly at her chocolatier home. But with so little people to trust in a small town and with several girls disappearances, it's up to Gretchen to investigate and learn for the first time what really happened to her twin sister.
Written much like Sisters Red, Pearce manages to pull off yet another fantastic cast of strong-willed, fiercely independant and lovable-but-kickass main characters, and weave together a modern classic fairytale retelling that can be original in its own way . . . and it totally rocked! I really loved the direction the author took her plot towards despite the many critics who disliked having wolves being apart of the storyline, when clearly the original tale did not have them. But who the hell cares when you have Jackson Pearce!
The bond between the siblings, Ansel and Gretchen, was the strongest point of the book. It was wonderfully written and realistic too. With Ansel doing most of the protecting before driving to the small town of Live Oak, it was sure a nice change to see the protective role being switched around and Gretchen did a mighty fine job at it! While Ansel himself was frustrating at times, but Gretchen was the thing I loved most about SWEETLY and I could definitely see us being friends if she were a real person. She used to be 'the twin sister of the missing sister' but she truly came into her own as the story progressed and I admired her so very deeply. And then, of course, we have the lush and ever-so-mysterious boy, Samuel Reynolds.
I honestly loved Samuel to boot! For those who've read Sisters Red, you will know he has a relation to another boy character in that book and it was great to see that relation in this companion novel, and talk about a hottie in the woods! Samuel was my second favourite thing about the book and he was a damn fine love interest. Despite his mysterious ways and moody attitude, he was still a pleasure to read about and I loved witnessing his chemistry with Gretchen - I mean, he made gun shooting look HELLA sexy! Like I said . . . I loved him!
Even though earlier in the novel I 'kind of' guessed one of the characters played a major role to the town girl's disappearances, but Pearce surely knows how to add and write great twists to her storyline! I admit, I was very surprised by the events that occured and even though readers know wolves have nothing to do with the original tale of Hansel and Gretchel, but that in no way distracted me from this modern retelling and I honestly think it made it even better than the original. I was totally engrossed with it and I desperately wanted to know more . . . so way to go Jackson Pearce! You did the book justice!
Overall, there's nothing bad to say about this novel - not one bit - except that it ended and I'm left deprived with no other Pearce novel to hold in my hand! While Sisters Red remains my favourite novel but SWEETLY holds its own, making Jackson Pearce the Queen of all modern fairytale retellings! Seriously . . . she's awesome. Dark, scary, witty, sexy, gripping - this has definitely become one of my favourite books and I know I'll be impatiently waiting for Pearce's third companion novel Fathomless (a retelling of my favourite fairytale 'The Little Mermaid') which is coming out sometime this year! Now thanks to SWEETLY, I have the sudden craving for chocolate . . . great.