Title: Sweetly
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Hodder Children´s Books
ISBN: 978-1-444-90059-0
Year: 2011
Pages: 310

Sweetly is a modern version of different fairy tales combined.
Ansel and Gretchen lost their sibling in the woods. She was taken by an evil yellow eyed monster. For Gretchen the disappearance is the hardest, it was her twin sister. They looked alike, they talked alike, so why did the monster take her sister and not her?

Now years later Ansel is nineteen years, Gretchen has just turned eighteen and their stepmother can legally throw them out of their house. Their plan is to ride down to the ocean after seeing advertisement signs of the shore, but their car breaks down on the interstate in South Carolina. They walk over to the nearest town which is Live Oak. Upon entering Live Oaks they only get glared at, but some inhabitants take pity on them and tell them where they can earn some money so they can afford their car getting fixed. Ansel and Gretchen find work in the candy shop owned by Sophia Kelly, the patron saint of candy, near the woods. Ansel takes an immediate linking to Sophia and Gretchen finds in her a long sought friend. But things aren´t what they seem in Live Oak. There is a handful of young people who have disappeared over the last two years and people are pointing their finger at Sophia. Especially a green-eyed boy is convinced of Sophia’s involvement in the disappearances.

Who doesn´t like fairy tales. Sweetly has elements of different fairy tales (Hansel & Gretel, Little red riding hood) that are situated in a small town in America.
Ansel, the big protective, brotherly kind, and Gretchen, scared in the beginning but kick-ass in the end, have a strong brother sister bond. They only had each other to rely on after their mother and father died. It’s remarkable to see how they keep trusting each other throughout the story.

Then there’s Sophia Kelly, a young girl (early twenties, I think) with a dual persona. You get to see the sweet girl who is nice to everyone and always has a bubbly energy around her, but there is a mysterious dark and sad side to her, that misses her father (who died in a freak accident) and sister (who left and never heard of again) terribly. And of course there is always the hot, cool and dangerous guy (yes, the green-eyed boy) who seems to know more than he lets on at first. Sweetly was different from what I expected. It wasn’t just the retelling of Hansel& Gretel, it had a whole Van Helsing side to it too.  I didn’t think the change from fairytale to The Terminator was all that, but that’s probably the traditional fairytale reader side of me talking. The things where Gretchen is afraid of, the things that lurk in the dark, ready to catch really gave me the chills. After reading Sweetly I did some double checks around the house even though it’s a fantasy story.

To give a brief summary: Sweetly is a book that both frightens and amazes. I really liked the characters and the fairytale similarities, but the elaboration not so. It gets 4 stars from me.

by Eshter

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