Sweetly is the second book in the Fairytale Retellings series by Jackson Pearce. It was published by Hodder Children's Books on 6th October and the book is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Twelve years ago, Ansel, Gretchen and her twin sister went into the woods looking for a witch. Only two of them returned.
Years later, Ansel and Gretchen have been thrown out of their house, left to fend for themselves. When their car breaks down, they find themselves in the small town of Live Oak, South Carolina. People in Live Oak don't like outsiders though and the only place for the siblings to stay is with Sophia Kelly who lives on the outskirts of town. Although both Ansel and Gretchen feel safe for a while, it isn't long until Gretchen realises the witch they once ran from is lurking in the dark.
Sophia holds a chocolate festival every year but immediately after, girls go missing. The town's people blame it on Sophia but there is someone who knows the truth. Together, he and Gretchen must find a way to stop any more girls going missing.
What I thought
I loved, loved, loved the first book in this series, Sisters Red which was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. As I have mentioned before, fairytales are the topic for my dissertation so I am trying to read as many as possible but I actually wanted to read this one anyway.
What I love so much about Jackson Pearce's writing is that she gets right back to basics of fairytales. Her writing is dark and gritty in the places it needs to be but also manages to weave in a magical element. The world she has built in Sweetly is very mystical. Although I knew the basics of the story of Hansel and Gretel, Pearce leaves room for her to put her own stamp on it and this left me guessing where and what the twists would be. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, something completely different did and I was thrown, not knowing, again, what would happen next.
From the original story, you wouldn't think that Gretel was a tough heroine but now that she has morphed into Gretchen, this changes. I really enjoyed the changes that Gretchen went through in Sweetly. At the beginning of the book, she is quite unsure of herself due to her sister going missing all of those years ago. She has never really known how to cope with what happened and certainly hasn't gotten over it in any way but when she arrives in Live Oak, this begins to change. Meeting new and different people shows Gretchen that she isn't the only one with problems and bad things happening to her. One person she meets in particular has a massive effect on her life and I loved the interaction between the two characters.
Even though Sweetly and Sisters Red are two completely different stories, they are a part of a series and do have something that links them together. The Fenris are so scary and creepy that I kind of didn't want them to make an appearance. That being said, they added a fantastic horror element to the story. The scenes with these creatures are extremely creepy and I didn't actually see them coming which made them even scarier. The Fenris also add a lot of fast paced action scenes which I completely loved. A lot of the book is quite slow paced due to Ansel and Gretchen getting themselves settled in a new place but once the action gets going, it really gets going!
Sophia was a complete mystery to me and I was extremely thankful for not being able to guess what was going on with her. Even though I knew something was obviously not quite right with her, I had no idea what it was. The thing about Sophia is that she just gets on with her every day life, making chocolates and doing the things that she needs to do. There doesn't seem to be anything too special about her for a long time in the book, apart from the fact she is beautiful and makes awesome chocolates. I couldn't tell if she actually was a witch or something else entirely or nothing at all! There was a hell of a lot of mystery surrounding Sophia and I was quite shocked when things about her began to be revealed.
Jackson Pearce, once again, hits the nail on the head when it comes to fairytales.