Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: Sweetly

Author: Jackson Pearce
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

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.

Sisters Red was one of my favorite books, so when I saw this book I immediately wanted to give it a try. First off, I love fairytale retellings and the cover of this book is like the opening to a wonderland! I knew right away that this book would have to do with Hansel and Gretel. The way that the limbs wind and cover stand out in front of the mystic purple background let you know that a story is about to unwind at this little cottage in the woods. The cottage itself is very cozy and welcoming. The lights are on and the gigantic, alluring eyes overhead give it that eerie feel that you know will end up giving you the goose bumps later, but you just have to explore through the dark forest anyway!

The plot within Sweetly is just as alluring as the wispy branches on the front cover of the book. There were times, while reading, that I could look down and see the hair standing up on my arms. I was literally freaked out!!! Pearce’s writing has just enough gothic edge to give the forest and the characters within it a tantalizing coldness that makes you close your eyes before turning the next page. I wanted to pull my favorite zebra print blanket over my eyes! (: But seriously, if you are looking for a chill up your spine, Jackson Pearce does not disappoint.

I must go ahead and say that I did enjoy Sisters Red more simply because I loved the sister/sister relationship better, whereas here we are given a brother/sister relationship that I did not feel was as strong. I loved Gretchen and Ansel, but they were lacking some gumption that I felt Rosie and Scarlet, on the other hand, had an abundance of. Ansel’s character was not as deep and heartfelt as I would have liked him to be. He did love his sister but I felt a lack of compassion for her at times. Gretchen was the weaker character at first. As the novel progressed, I can say that she did break free from the nightmares that she often hid behind.

Sam, as a character, I fell in love with. I am always drawn to the outcasts and the people that no one in the town wants to associate with. Sam is that person in this book. He takes a chance in telling the townspeople what he really knows to be in the woods and in return he is deemed the exile. I can admire him for that simple reason and because he helps Gretchen to do the same. He sees something in her that she has tried to keep hidden for years and years. He is such an admirable character just because he is so real and masculine. He defends Gretchen with a chivalric quality that I wish we saw more of in reality.

Jackson Pearce’s writing was eloquent and complete with a gothic twist at times. The descriptions of the Chocolatier and of Sophia Kelly kept me hanging on for more. Who doesn’t want to read about a cozy, sweet cottage that smells like cinnamon and hazelnut all the time? I only wish that Gretchen and Ansel would have been stronger characters. Instead, I felt that it was Sophia Kelly and Sam who kept me hanging around. They were such a stronger lead than the two main characters. Sophia and Sam each share a uniqueness and a secret that sets them apart from the rest!


  1. I haven't read any books by the author, although of course I'm planning to. I'm particularly interested in the relationship between siblings that the author has in her books (even though I know it may not be as strong here in Sweetly). And it sounds creepy! And I'm really interested in Sam, too. I also always tend to pin for outcasts characters.

    Nice review! :)

  2. I have this one on my bookshelf and it is one that I adore! Who doesn't love a good retelling of a fairytale? This one was no is devine :) Great review!

  3. Oh, I've been meaning to read Jackson's fairy tale retellings for years - but I just haven't gotten around to them! I've been planning on reading them before Fathomless comes out though - are you excited for that one?

    I think I'd probably prefer the sister/sister relationship as you did in Sweetly, over this one, but I'm just glad to hear that this one is as good as people say!

    Lovely review, Chelsey! <3

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

  4. Yet another book I have to get now! You are making me TBR list grow by the minute! :) Thanks for another great review.

  5. I haven't been sure about Jackson Pearce's books just because I'm sceptical about the fairytale retellings. But these definitely sound interesting. Sorry to hear it wasn't as good as Sister's Red for you but glad you still enjoyed it!