Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED.
Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.
Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.
Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.
My take: There is a witch but the witch is not like the one in Monty Python. She will not turn you into a newt and you will not get better. It is much more horrible than that. The witch took one of the siblings 12 years ago, Gretchen's identical twin. Since then, Gretchen and Ansel have watched the woods and not spoken of the incident. Both of their parents have since died and the evil stepmother tired of the stepchildren and told them to move along. That's when they break down in a very small and secluded town where the only place for them to earn their keep is a candy maker's cottage. By the way, the candy maker is an enchantingly beautiful young woman with eyes for Ansel and suddenly Gretchen's BFF.
That's pretty much the end of the similarities between the retelling of Hansel and Gretel except for an occasional reference. It is best to read this book as an original story so as not to be disappointed when the witch is revealed. Although Ansel does fatten up a bit and the enchantress, well, I can't tell you any more about her.
Be forewarned that this book is pretty gory at some points. The fight scenes are well choreographed and the death scenes are much like the Brothers Grimm might have written them way back in the Days of Yore (real time period, people). Do not read this book to your wee ones as a bedtime story. Bad dreams will abound.
Still. I liked it a lot.