Monday, June 1, 2015

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I came across this book by chance, but since fairy tales and fairy-tale retellings are my weakness, I had to give it a go.

Sweetly is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, only in this story it's not clear who the witch is. Ansel (Hansel) and Gretchen (Gretel) have been thrown out by their stepmother. The two twins were marked by the disappearance of Gretchen's twin in the woods while they were little, which caused their mother's death, and their father to go in a deep despondency. Trying to make a new start, their car breaks down in Live Oak, South Carolina. They end up staying with Sophia Kelly, a candy maker who Ansel quickly falls in love with. But, Live Oaks hides a dark secret, and if the local outcast Samuel can be trusted, Sophia Kelly is the cause of every bad thing that happens. But can the girl that took Gretchen in as a sister and is dating her brother really be evil?

This story was pretty interesting. Apart from the candy-making Sophia, and the similar names, the parallel to the fairy tale isn't very interesting. Sure, there's a witch, but most people don't believe she exists. The only other parallel to the fairy tale I caught was Ansel getting fat. And the ending, which had fire, but not much similarity apart from that.

Gretchen was a pretty good protagonist and narrator though. While I'm not a fan of her judging people on their grief (her standard is to compare how others act to how she acts, then by their smiles and actions decides if they've lost a loved one - and since people can grieve differently, I don't quite agree with this), she's really does grow a lot through the novel. She was this scared girl afraid of disappearing at the start, and by the end, she was ready to take a stand against the witch.

The concept of the witch was pretty novel too. I'm not sure if I buy the explanation of who/what a witch is(which I can't go into, because that would be spoiler), the 'witch' of this book was a scary antagonist.

Sweetly basically takes the concept of Hansel and Gretel as a starting point and from there, wove its own tale. The end story bares only a slight resemblance to the traditional fairy tale, but overall, I enjoyed how it was done.

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