Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Jackson Pearce's newest novel, due out in August, retells the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel. Rather than two young children lost in the woods after their evil stepmother forces them out of their home, this is the story of Ansel and Gretchen. They have been kicked out of their family home, but these characters are teenagers on a road trip to find a new life. When their car breaks down in the town of Live Oak, South Carolina, they are directed to a sweet shop to look for work.

Sophia Kelly, a mysterious but kind girl, owns the shop and finds lots and lots of odd jobs for Ansel to help out with. Ansel and Gretchen lose track of time and the weeks roll on. Being so close to the woods, Gretchen can't help but be reminded of the twin sister she lost when she was little. This sister was taken by a witch and never seen again.

Gretchen is determined to be ready to fight off a witch the next time she sees one. But, there seems to be other dangers crawling around Live Oak, and in the house she's staying at. There are lots of unexplained disappearances of teen girls and Sophia Kelly seems to be to blame. When Gretchen discovers that Sophia id hiding lots of information from Gretchen and her brother, the entire ruse starts to unravel.
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There are some fairy tale re-tellings that work rather well, and there are others that don't. There were some aspects of this story that I enjoyed, and I did read it to the end to figure out what would happen, but there was just too little in common with the original to make this story appealing to me. 

At times, Sweetly almost felt like a whole other tale. I was dismayed that the elements that I loved in the original Hansel and Gretel are nowhere to be found in this adaptation.  That said, there are some merits to this story. I enjoyed the fact that Gretchen and Ansel are teenagers, that the "witch" is about their same age, and I liked the setting of a candy shop rather than a house made of candy. 

Also, in the original tale, Gretel outsmarts the old witch and in this story, Gretchen is definitely the heroine. She was definitely my favorite character. 

I wish that I could gush and rave about this book. I really, really wanted to love it. I will continue to read Jackson Pearce's books and fairy tales re-told. I open to re-tellings of old favorites, even if they are not as close to the original as I would've liked!

**ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours**


  1. Sadness, I was hoping with that awesome cover, that it would be pretty good but losing the original charm is never a good thing >.<

    Sniffly Kitty
    Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

  2. Oooh. I loved Sisters Red and I love fairy tale retellings, so I had high hopes for this one. I'm still excited for it, but bummed that you didn't like it too much.

  3. I am a huge retelling fan, and even asked my students to attempt one this year. I am sadden to hear this one just wasn't all that. Thanks for a great review.

  4. I haven't read Sisters Red yet, but it is on my TBR pile. The sequel looks good.

  5. I loved Sisters Red-- really want to love Sweetly, too. Thanks for the review, and I'm sorry to see here it wasn't your favorite and that it doesn't follow the original tale so well. Gotta love that cover! :)

  6. hey! new GFC follower! love the blog and i'm lookin forward to reading more!

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  7. What a creepy cover! I am sorry that you were disappointed. I usually really like remakes, but have also found that if they are too far off from the original I don't like them as much which sounds like the case here. Thanks for the review.

  8. Hi,

    I'm Kate Evangelista, author of Taste, and I just wanted to take this time to introduce myself. If you have the time, please stop by The Coffee Bar by using the link below:

    I hope to see you there.


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  10. Good review- I might still take a look just in case. I think I had similar feelings about Low Red Moon and Little Red Riding Hood, even though that wasn't EXACTLY a retelling.

  11. This sounds like a nice read. Thanks for the honest review.

    I'm a new GFC follower btw ;)

    Kind regards,
    I Heart Reading

  12. I think that it may be better read without an eye towards the original tale, simply as a tale unto itself, because much of the criticism I've seen is about the same - that it doesn't hold to the original story. I do have this one on my reading list, so I will have to force myself to push the original tale out of my mind as I read to take it as its own tale :) Thanks for the review!



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