{Review} Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

12:00 AM

Pages: 310
Publication date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
How I got the copy: ARCycling for review 
Rating:  4 Stars
From Goodreads:
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've never read Hansel and Gretel, but I knew the base of the story.  Two kids are lost in the forest leaving a trail of breadcrumbs and find the candy house with the witch inside that wants to eat them.  I wasn't sure how Jackson was going to be able to make this into a YA friendly retelling.  somehow she took this really disturbing story and made it fun and entertaining.  And yet she captured that dark and creepy tone that made it feel true to the original tale.

     Gretchen's character really grew during the story.  I'm such a fan of character development so I was very happy to see this progress over time.  What I did find odd was her strange trust in Sophia, the chocolatier.  As someone who was so scared of the witch, why would she trust a complete stranger especially when things started getting weird?

    But with that said, I found myself trusting Sophia too.  I wanted to like her even when things started making her seem shady.  I wish I had read Sisters Red first because I feel like I wasn't understanding everything that was going on.  Also, for anyone who has read this.  Is the chocolate supposed to have magical powers?  I was really confused by the confidence inducing chocolate oranges.  This was definitely a page turner and probably my favorite retelling so far. 

“I should be mad. I should hate her. I should judge her. But there is some madness in love.” 
― Jackson PearceSweetly
Ambur from Burning Impossibly Bright: 5 stars

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