Deadly Hemlock, I admit, was a bit of a struggle to get through. And seeing as this is the first review I've written in what—three months?—I2.5 stars
Deadly Hemlock, I admit, was a bit of a struggle to get through. And seeing as this is the first review I've written in what—three months?—I can't exactly say it was the easiest to write a review for either. While it does produce some fairly interesting and engaging characters, even that is surreptitiously ruined by forced drama through an unneeded love triangle and a baddy who's as one-dimensional as they come. Thankfully however, Deadly Hemlock was saved from being completely unbearable by Peacock somehow pulling, out of freaking nowhere, an astonishingly compelling murder mystery, one even I really can't deny I had a lot of fun trying to figure out!
-- thoughts Now, I'll start by saying that this mystery... is one where I figured out the culprit's identity pretty quickly once all the foreshadowing started rolling in. Yet even knowing the culprit, Peacock artfully swerved around all the obvious plot twists and kept me guessing—once again, remember dear readers, that I already knew the culprit—right up until the end. It's a testament to Peacock's creativity that even when you think you know everything and nothing more can surprise you, Peacock indeed, does just that. And if the romance and the villain manage to turn you off, you can be sure that this will be the one thing you can take out of reading Deadly Hemlock and say you hell of a lot enjoyed!
And yet, it's such a shame that with such a fantastic mystery backdrop and characters that—albeit not the best—are solidly nice on their own, Peacock had to pounce on the idea of a love triangle as soon as she saw two prospective love interests roaming in the wild. Suddenly the focus isn't so much on the mystery of an important dead friend, but of petty arguments and teen angst between two guys who, you know, have been best friends for like ever, brawling over that one girl whenever they cross paths. See, I could totally imagine this if they didn't really know each other, but these guys have been friends since third grade. Surely a long-lasting friendship has to outweigh crushing on the same girl? Not to mention, it's another one of those books where the two guys in question fall for the oblivious, supposedly average looking female for no reason except drama, drama and—oh yeah!—drama. All the bad bits aside though, I do have to give Mac her rightful props for not being the typical love triangle center and hooking up with both guys secretly. She's sure of her feelings and knows who she wants, while slowly backing away from the one that, well... she doesn't want.
But oh lord, I'm not even done yet! When an author creates a villain you want to knee in the crotch every time he appears on the page, I suspect that is normally a good sign. However, when said villain is a villain just because the author needs someone evil to give the main characters hell, instead I want to bring the book to life and knee it in the crotch. Because that is just cheap storytelling, quite honestly, and Deadly Hemlock could have done much better than that. I can't even remember the villain's name but if Mr. Evil—what I'll be calling him instead—had had some sort of legitimate reason to be such a douche, then I would have been happy and this might have gotten a higher rating. It tries, it does—the cliché route as well—but this villain's past feels so out of conjunction with his character in the present that I feel like it really did have no impact on his ideals today and he's just evil because the author wants him to be. Yeah, there are people outside of fiction who are very much like Mr. Evil here, but this is fiction and plastic characters make plastic books.
-- in a nutshell ...so in a nutshell? Well, I'm honestly not too sure whether I'll be reading the next book or not. With the mystery dead and gone, I'm not expecting this series to go to grand new heights since the next installment is hinting at a full-fledged romance which, as I've made clear in this review, was not exactly the highlight of Deadly Hemlock. But perhaps I'm wrong and I'll have to eat my words! If you want to take one thing out of this review though—don't go in it for the romance, or really, if you're just too easily frustrated by love triangles. No. Go into this for the mystery. Because no doubt, this is how write you write a good one!...more
1. Gretel, Gretchen Gretchen is such an amazing heroine! She aches for the sister she left to the witch, however as th6 things I thought about Sweetly:
1. Gretel, Gretchen Gretchen is such an amazing heroine! She aches for the sister she left to the witch, however as the story progresses, she grows stronger and more determined than ever to find out the truth surrounding that years-old mystery. It's her courage and initiative that made me lover her, because she's definitely not just some damsel-in-distress looking for an out of the danger! Instead she races towards it, facing it head-on. She even learns how to shoot a gun.
"Behind the glass are bright, ripe pieces of fruit dipped into chocolate—white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, dotted with nuts or dusted with cocoa powder."
Sweetly is full to the brim with rich descriptions of mouth-watering delicacies. I swear I could smell the warm chocolaty scent of the chocolatier and taste the lemon tartness Gretchen was experiencing as I was reading this!
3. Sophia Kelly, the Patron Saint of Candy Sophia is the bubbly, cheerful and carefree owner of the chocolatier, yet there's another side of her that she only lets loose when she thinks she's alone—a huge intense grief. She holds many secrets, and this sadness we see through Gretchen's eyes is enough to lure readers into sympathizing with her. However, as much as I liked Sophia, it's also this knowledge of an obvious secret she's hiding and the constant melancholy we coincidentally happen upon that unfortunately makes the plot fairly easy to eventually map out.
4. She keeps it real! What I loved most about Pearce's storytelling was how much she kept to the original story of Hansel and Gretel whilst still making it completely unique! There's a lovely balance between the original and the retold that made Sweetly such a pleasant and enjoyable read. You know the story, yet Pearce spins and weaves it into a whole new tale all of it's own!
5. The romance. I really enjoyed reading about Gretchen and Samuel's relationship—it was sweet, realistic and contained absolutely zero insta-love! While Samuel isn't entirely likable at the beginning, his growing closeness with Gretchen however, will eventually soften you like a melted marshmallow :-)
6. Unless you wait till the end... ...there's honestly not a lot going on. Sweetly is more of a mystery than an action-packer though that's not to say it's boring, because it's definitely far from it! It's not exactly slow-paced, but the real action happens towards the end of the story, and that's when it gets jaw-dropping-ly good. Yet even with the lack of action, the plot still manages to captivate you enough so that the journey towards that thrilling conclusion doesn't seem as long as you might think it to be!
-- in a nutshell Just like Sophia is the Patron Saint of Candy, Pearce might just be the Patron Saint of retellings! Though it certainly does have it's fault, I fell in love with this new take on Hansel and Gretel Predictable yes, however that doesn't mar the enjoyment level of it and it's still fun to figure out and watch how everything ultimately comes together in the end. Fan of fairytales? The paranormal? Or even just a nice simple, no-nonsense romance? Then I think you'd love this!...more