Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Release Date – August 23, 2011
Publisher Website – Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 310 pages
My Rating- 3.5/5
**obtained from the library**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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 may just be one of my most surprising reads this year. It was not at all what I was expecting. Those looking for a Hansel and Gretel retelling should be warned - this isn’t the tale from your childhood.
The world introduced to us in Sisters Red plays such a huge part in this second novel. I went into it thinking each novel was more self contained and were tied together by the fairy retelling aspect. The novels are more intertwined that I anticipated. This made the world feel comfortable and helped me jump into the story right way. The surprise and delight at finding out how connected the two novels are is one of my favourite parts of reading it. However, I was a little disappointed that it was not a more self contained story, and not a more figurative retelling of the classic tale.
The theme of guilt runs throughout the story with each of our characters feeling as if they have to atone for something. Some of those supposed crimes are ones that the character should not suffer for, and others are right to feel responsible for their actions. The lines are blurred, however, and Sweetly will leave you wondering just who is culpable. I found Gretchen’s survivors guilt heartbreaking and exceptionally well developed.
Sadly, the characters in this one also kept me at arms length. I am not sure what it is, but I have a harder time becoming attached to them. I am a very character driven reader, so it’s often hard for me to continue reading when this happens. It was the unique spin that Jackson Pearce has put on these fairytales that drew me in.
Here is where I admit that I am huge Little Mermaid fan. The introduction to what I can only hope is the storyline for Fathomless was woven into the plot flawlessly. I am already intrigued and engaged with the story, and again was surprised at how it ties into the werewolf mythology we already have been introduced to. Seashells play a little part in the mystery of Sweetly and I relished each mention.
This series has surprised me and I do have high hopes for Fathomless based on the set up from this novel. I love the intertwined connections between the novels and am looking forward to meet Pearce’s mermaids.