- Date published: 23rd August 2011
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
- Series: Fairytale Retellings, Book 2
- ISBN 13: 9780316068659 ISBN 10: 0316068659
- Categories: YA Fantasy
- Goodreads / The Book Depository / Booktopia / Bookworld
- Source: borrowed from the library
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.
I really enjoyed Sweetly, the second brilliant fairy tale retelling by Jackson Pearce. It’s a riveting story of the brother-and-sister duo, Ansel and Grethen. A story you think you know, but really, you don’t.
I love love love the way this book ties in with Sisters Red, it was unexpected and well-executed, and without doubt my favourite aspect of the story. I kept waiting for the witch, waiting, waiting, and there was no witch! I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series now, because I have all these theories about how they are all connected.
I liked Gretchen and Ansel, they had a strong bond, like Scarlett and Rosie, but it wasn’t as imbalanced. Neither of them really felt like they owed the other or anything, it made for a healthier relationship between the siblings. I also liked that they were able to let one another have independent lives, without hovering or being jealous. The relationships they cultivated with Sophia, the candy-shop lady (awesome job right?) are realistic but touched with mystery, and although Ansel’s romantic feelings for Sophia were predictable, I think the progression of Gretchen and Samuel’s relationship was very cute.
I admire Pearce’s ability to rework these traditional fairy tales into creepy, interesting stories revolving around strong family values. I was also glad that this book didn’t give me misgivings about the way it portrayed women, especially those who made choices that the protagonists didn’t agree with. It was one of the disappointing features of the previous book, but didn’t make an appearance in this one.
Pearce does incredible things with our beloved fairy tales; her stories take our childhood fears and project them into the adult world. Sweetly will be enjoyed by fans of fairytale retellings, and can be read independently of Sisters Red. I’m hoping to read Fathomless, the third book of this series, soon.