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.
Sweetly is a twisty retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Ansel and Gretchen, though, make much more sense than the children in the original story. Sweetly’s characters all jump off the page with life. In fact, a lot of the time I was torn because I knew that two characters were in conflict but I wanted them both to win so badly. I found it really great that each character had such clear and sympathetic motivations. I also really liked the idea of magic candy, and the descriptions of sweets were so vivid I wanted to go buy tons of chocolate every time I picked up this book! The plot was well paced; although I knew where the book was generally going it developed well along the way and provided so many good twists that by the end I was completely satisfied even though I had predicted some of the ending. The romances in the book are good, acting as sub-plots and yet moving along in realistic patterns. The few action scenes are great, however, I think that this really set this book apart from Sisters Red because the plot concentrated more on plot and character than action and battle. It was really great to see some variety from Pearce and know that although she can write an amazing ‘war’ book she can also do justice to slower-paced stories.