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.
SWEETLY mixes the sweetness of new romance with the bitterness of loss to create a new take on the HANSEL AND GRETEL fairytale.
Author Jackson Pearce can take a story everyone knows and turn it into something completely fresh and new, while still maintaining the original premise of the story. In SWEETLY, Pearce retells the story of HANSEL AND GRETEL, but adds her unique blend of writing and storytelling to the tale.
What captured me most about SWEETLY was the interconnection of characters and the sibling relationship between Gretchen and Ansel. The loss of Gretchen's twin and Ansel's sister created this remarkable bond between the two and while it was sad that this came about because of the sister's disappearance, it was touching to see how they looked after each other. On the other hand, I liked how Pearce developed Gretchen's character into being more independent, more of a different person from her brother, as the story progressed. It was great seeing Gretchen face her fears, become more self sufficient and less scared of her shadow, so to speak. This was spurred on in part by Ansel developing a romantic relationship with Sophia and Gretchen's wish to let her brother have some happiness and to not be a third wheel in their encounters.
I loved the introduction and inclusion of Samuel in SWEETLY. If you've read SISTERS RED, the companion novel to SWEETLY, you'll recognize Samuel as Silas' brother. In SWEETLY, Samuel helps (perhaps unwittingly) Gretchen to gain independence and to face the fears and guilt she has carried since the disappearance of her twin sister. Samuel and the lore surrounding him and his family become an integral part of the plot of SWEETLY, as it connects SISTERS RED to it's companion novel, yet doesn't detract from the fact that two different stories are being told in each book.
SWEETLY is a novel of loss and love, but more importantly it's about the relationship that exists between siblings and how they will do whatever is necessary to protect their loved ones.
MEMORABLE PASSAGES / SCENES:
Neither of us says anything, but there's a second, a tiny moment, where we stand in the darkness, hands intertwined, and I know he's as fully aware of my skin on his as I am.
Killing a werewolf is no small task. You'd think I would remember every last moment - the scent, the feeling, the sight of a monster leaping toward me. But that's all blurred in my m ind, overpowered by the sensation of kissing Samuel.
*Quotes taken from ARC of SWEETLY and are subject to change at publication.
MY RATING IS:
SWEETLY description and cover art courtesy of GOODREADS
I received an ARC of SWEETLY from AROUND THE WORLD ARC TOURS.
Find SWEETLY at your local indie bookstore.