Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tahleen reviews: "Sweetly" by Jackson Pearce

Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2011

Rating: 4 stars

In a modern telling of Hansel and Gretel, Jackson Pearce brings us to Live Oak, South Carolina, where Ansel and his little sister Gretchen, ages 19 and 18 respectively, run out of gas on a cross-country road trip after being kicked out of their home by their stepmother. Gretchen, still scarred from her twin sister being snatched by what she remembers as a witch one fateful day in the woods, is very withdrawn yet desperately wants to stand out so she doesn't disappear too. Ansel has always been her rock. Things look like they might be changing for the better when they find a temporary home with Sophia Kelly, the young woman who owns the local chocolatier. Yet there are secrets in these woods, and Sophia isn't telling them everything. What seems like paradise starts to look more and more like the woods Gretchen left behind.

In her second fairy tale book, Pearce has once again taken an age-old tale and brought it to the modern day. I love fairy tale retellings, but I was a little disappointed with Pearce's Sisters Red. But here, I think Pearce has improved as a writer. I liked the characters much more, and the language she uses for her characters is pitch-perfect.

I was intrigued by the mystery, and Pearce unraveled it at just the right pace. I was never too far ahead of the characters (I hate it when I can figure it out too soon), and I really like how she tied her two novels together. And man, did she bring on the action. My favorite part of Sisters Red was the fighting, and I was glad to see it return.

Oh, also? Delicious candy. I wanted chocolate pretty much the entire time I was reading this.

One thing I couldn't stand, though, was how often Pearce used certain words. The most memorable one was the word "tease." I felt like everything anyone said to anyone was followed by "I teased" or "she teased." It got so bad that I started rolling my eyes when I came across it—it was just aggravating. But I guess if that's my biggest complaint, that's not so bad.

I'm looking forward to the third novel, a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" titled Fathomless, later this year. There were hints about part of the plot in Sweetly, and I'm eager to see how the series will continue and for the introduction of new characters.

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.


  1. Thanks for the review! I have this one on my shelf still to read. I better get on it.

  2. I like the sound of this. Modern retelling of fairytales really interest me lately. I haven't heard of these before but am definitely interested in them now. Thanks for the great review!


  3. I love retellings as well! From what I gather, it isn't necessary to read Sisters Red to read Sweetly, correct? I've just heard from everyone that Sister Red was rather disappointing.

    I too get annoyed when authors get too caught up in a particular word. Like Patrick Rothfuss who looooves to use 'groused'. Glad I'm not the only one! =)

  4. Heidi, you definitely don't have to read Sisters Red before Sweetly, though you will understand the world a bit better. I was disappointed with SR too, but was pleasantly surprised here.

  5. The cover to this is absolutely beautiful. I'm so into fairy tales right now that it's not even funny.

  6. Interesting - I felt fine about Sisters Red - not a favorite, but I thought it was a fun read. I'm excited that Pearce is making the books connected! I love it when characters show up in new books that aren't necessarily sequels. And now I feel the need to go eat a Reese cup...

    1. It's so hard to get through this book without eating a lot of chocolate.

  7. I have yet to read any fairy tale retellings. Maybe Pearce would be a good place to begin.


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