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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Classic fairy tales set in the modern day are usually a good time. Jackson Pearce's 2nd novel is a twist on Hansel and Gretel set in the 21st century. Think the Brothers Grimm tale and add in guns.

When they were little children exploring the forest, Ansel and Gretchen had their sister kidnapped from them by a witch. At least, they think it was a witch. All Gretchen saw was a pair of yellow eyes. Now that they are older, their father and mother are both dead and their stepmother has just kicked them out of the house. They head down to Live Oak, South Carolina to start over. Everyone is the town seems cold and unwelcoming except Sophia Kelly. She's a beautiful young woman who runs the local chocolate shop. Her candies are almost magical. They give people hope, strength, and courage. Gretchen and Ansel move in with her and life seems just about perfect. But then Gretchen meets dark stranger Samuel, who tells her not to trust Sophia. Gretchen soon learns the scary truth: the witch is still around, and won't go away until it's been fed.

I've always liked the story of Hansel and Gretel, so this book has been on my to-read list for a while. I found it thoroughly entertaining. It's told from Gretchen's perspective, and sometimes I thought Ansel was pushed in the background. Gretchen is the one doing all the cool stuff. It's set up like a big mystery. The plot keeps twisting and turning out new details piecing together just who the witch is and why it is the way it is.

I read the majority of Sweetly in one day. It gets a little weird. The ending was pretty whacked up. The whole story is this huge buildup to a big reveal only to reach it's gruesome, disturbing demise. It was a bittersweet ending, and I wasn't a huge fan of it. But it kept me reading, which is what counts. As for the characters, Gretchen proved to be quite tough. I liked Samuel a lot. Ansel kind of seemed like a wuss. And it's blatantly obvious that Sophia can't be trusted.

As for predictability, the story wasn't too bad. Sure, it isn't hard to guess who the witch is in the end, but there's more to it then that. It will keep you guessing.

Sweetly is a gritty, modernized retelling of Hansel and Gretel. It was better than okay, but it isn't phenomenal. Overall I enjoyed it. Read it on a rainy day, it's one of those books.
3.5/5 stars

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