Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings #2)
August 23, 2011
Their mother never recovered from her grief and Ansel and Gretchen have spent the years wary of the woods, worried something will take them, too. Now, their stepmother has cast them out, happy to finally be rid of them.
On their way across the country from Washington, they find themselves stranded nearly penniless in the tiny South Carolina town of Live Oak. Invited to live with Sophia Kelly who runs - and lives in - the out of the way chocolatier, Gretchen soon finds that strange things don't only happen in her hometown.
Girls disappear every year after Sophia's chocolate festival. Girls that Sophia claims have simply finally found the nerve to leave the nowhere town. Their families - eight in total - blame Sophia, though.
Is Sophia really just a young woman who can make amazing chocolates and candies, things so good you forget your troubles? The girl who's caught Ansel's eye? Or is she something more sinister?
It seems it's going to be up to Gretchen to find out.
More a mash up of several fairy tales than a retelling of just one (even if the siblings' names bring to mind Hansel and Gretel), Sweetly is the companion novel to Pearce's Sisters Red. While knowing that story is definitely not necessary for reading this one, having read that one will give you background on one of the characters who is introduced partway through Sweetly and becomes one of the more central characters.
It's easy to connect with and care about Sweetly's characters. The sibling relationships and the sister/sister relationships (either genetic or not) are especially strong and well written. Ansel and Gretchen have a strong bond - which makes perfect sense after what they experienced with losing their sister and afterwards - and it holds up well throughout the story.
The conflict/resolution part of the book - with the girls missing and what the real explanation was and then the resolution to that/the ending of the book was what wasn't great for me. It was almost predictable so I wanted there to be something more.
I'm still not sure about the ending. I don't know if I think it really makes sense that some of it went as easily, I guess. But, it did leave me thinking about it which I always see as a good sign. And any book that leaves you wanting more and/or wondering when it's over has done something right because you care enough to do that.
Thank you to Little, Brown for my copy of this book