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As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past-- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone-- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen it's next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

310 pages, Hardcover

First published August 23, 2011

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About the author

Jackson Pearce

33 books2,620 followers

I am not very active on Goodreads-- this is largely a placeholder account! Therefore, I do not read Goodreads mail. If you want to get in touch with me, please go here: CONTACT ME!

Jackson Pearce currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy and currently works for a software company even though she auditioned for the circus (she juggled and twirled fire batons, but they still didn’t want her). Other jobs she’s had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist.

Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn’t tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve. Her parents thought it was cute at first, but have grown steadily more concerned for her ever since.

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5 stars
1,596 (26%)
4 stars
2,212 (37%)
3 stars
1,651 (27%)
2 stars
390 (6%)
1 star
109 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 910 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 17, 2020
i thought that these "fairy tale retellings" would all be retellings of different fairy tales with no overlap, but then some fenris from sisters red snuck in, along with the brother of silas reynolds. get outta here - this is supposed to be hansel and gretel! (or "ansel" and "gretchen" in this case) there are no wolves here! but there are. so i'm warning you. this is going to be more of a series of books in which there is free passage between the fairy tales, despite their origin, than a series of stand-alone modernizations/retellings.

and that's okay, it was just unexpected.

this one gets the three stars only because it was good, but not as good as sisters red, so they can't get the same rating..

why do i always find it necessary to explain my ratings? as though someone is out there making a spreadsheet of all of this, and needs to understand the nuances of my preferences. stop studying me, scientists!

book: when ansel and gretchen were little, gretchen's twin sister got snatched in the woods by what young gretchen interprets as a witch. many years later, having lost both of their parents and still touched by survivor's guilt and fear, the siblings leave home together and eventually find themselves in a spooky small town when their car breaks down, where they befriend a young chocolatier living in a tiny cottage smelling of vanilla and filled with seeeecrets. ansel falls in love, gretchen falls in "replacement for lost sister" love, and only then do they start hearing about the mysterious disappearances of young girls, and the accusations against their new friend sophia.

i liked this one just fine, but i don't think it had the same intensity as the first. it was more of a slow-pooling mystery novel with a truly fantastic climactic scene, and didn't have as striking characters as sisters red. (well, one character anyway - i am still not sold on rosie). all the talk of hazelnut truffles and candied lemon peels had me wishing for my very own sophie in a candy-cottage nearby, even with all her sinister baggage. is worth it for candy.

i am very interested to see where she takes this series, and to see whether all the recurring themes and characters will eventually come together and how that will even work. she has a good thing going here, and i am hoping it doesn't get away from her.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Greta is Erikasbuddy.
851 reviews28 followers
August 26, 2011
The story of Hansel and Gretel has always ticked me off. Two fat German kids roaming through the forest snacking on bread and leaving a trail so they can find their way back home to stuff their little piggy faces with more food but little do they know that Mommy and Daddy don't want them cuz they can't afford to feed them.

Or at least... that's the one I always tell ;)

And then they find this candy house and start chow dowing on it and licking all the doorknobs and royally ticking off this witchy woman that she decides to totally trap them and eat them before they mistake her for a chocolate bar and wind up eating her.

And while the witch is totally doing her patriotic duty to rid the world of these cavity kids this hunter dude comes along and calls her a child abuser and then murders her while throwing her into the fire thus saving the kids... and then realizing "OH SNAP! Now I have to feed these kids." And I assume they eat him cuz he tastes like a Ranger Cookie or something.

WOAH! That would make Hansel and Gretel like cannibals or something. COOL!

Butters.... In this book we have a slightly different retelling of Hansel and Gretel... more modern and less people eating ;)

The names have been changed so instead of Hansel we have ANSEL and instead of Gretel we have... GRETA!! No... that would have been cool right? I was hoping for it. No, instead of Gretel we have GRETCHEN.

Gretchen and Ansel are pretty much orphaned. Mommy is dead and Dad just died and their evil step-mom threw them out of the house because Gretel just became legal and she was probably sick of buying them hot chocolate packets or something. But just like every fairy-tale the step mom was an uber meany and she was like "GO AWAY" so they left.

They start out in Washington State hanging out with sparkly vampires... or so I like to believe... because everyone who lives in Washington State hangs out with sparkly vampire, right? Wait! Don't tell me! I want to believe that!!

And they road trip it over to South Carolina where their car breaks down in this dried up little town that totally hates strangers but are more than happy to send the two kiddies over to this candy shop lady's house to do odd jobs and earn some cash to fix their car, buy them some candy cigarettes, and lead them on their way ;) Or so I want to believe.

Gretel is a total outcast because she has rainbow hair and her bro Ansel is one hot looker and the Candy Store lady, Sophia, soon swoons over him. But there's something fishy going on in town.... and there's something even odder happening over at the candy shop. Why is it in the middle of nowhere? Why is Sophia so gung ho about keeping the kids in the house till after she throws the big Chocolate festival? Why is the whole town against her? Is their truth in their words? Or is their a secret they are all trying to hide?

Greta's Thoughts:

Were you totally entertained by this book?
Well, there were some slow spots but once you get to the last 100 pages you'll eat that up as fast as you can. It was most awesome.

How did you feel about the characters?
I was just happy that they weren't overweight German kids.

Are you trying to say you got picked on a lot because of this fairytale?
Like uber yeahs!! So, I'm quite picky with retellings of this because you know... as a Greta I have to be.

But there isn't a Greta in Hansel and Gretel.
Ummm...... and your point is?

Did you dig the plot?
To a point. I think there were parts that could have been chopped out because I always think fairytales should be short but I really enjoyed where the book wound up at.

Was there any romance?
Not much. A teeny tiny bit.

This is the second book in the series. Is it ok to read them out of order?
Yes it is because I have yet to read SISTERS RED and I wasn't confused at all.

Who do you think would enjoy this book the most?
I would say girls. I'm not sure if a boy would enjoy this story. There are guns and stuff but I don't think the'd appreciate the first 200 pages.

What is the moral of the story?
Candy is not always as sweet as it tastes.

Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews211 followers
February 5, 2013
This was a fun read. I enjoyed Ms. Pearce's take of an old fairy tale. Her words painted pictures in my mind, and passages and characters popped into my head, even when the book was closed on my nightstand. The mystery that weaves through the tale is intriguing. Ms. Pearce leaves "bread-crumb trails" for the reader to feel as if he can figure it all out, but there is a subtle with-holding to allow for a surprising wrap-up.
Profile Image for Darkfallen.
259 reviews46 followers
August 18, 2011
First I want to start off by saying that fairytale retellings isn't something that has grabbed me in the past. In fact when Little Brown Books sent this to me for review it was actually intended for Greta, not me. But then Greta said "Why don't ya read it first then send it to me? You might like it?" It's not that I have anything against the classic tales, but I've never had a desire to read one. Actually I have only ever read one before this, and that one is on the hush hush.

So I thought to myself Why not? After all it's here already!

OMG I AM SO GLAD I DID!!! This was truly amazing. There just isn't any other way to describe it. Hauntingly fantastically gripping...yea that might work!

I don't want to say to much because I will ruin it, and no one wants that. So here I go.

Ansel and Gretchen are all grown up now, but no matter how bad they wish they could that day in the woods. The day that the witch chased them. The day they no longer were the happy threesome, but now the two that lost their sister. No one believed there was a witch in the woods. A witch with yellow eyes. A witch that waited to strike and then took children. Vanished. That's what their little sister had become. As if that wasn't enough their mother couldn't look at Gretchen anymore. All she saw was the twin that vanished. Until eventually the grief took her too. Not long after dad followed suit. Leaving Ansel & Gretchen with a step-mother that couldn't be bothered with them. Ansel was forced to be the rock for Gretchen. Always saving her from her nightmares. Trying to save her from losing half herself.

Now Ansel is 19, Gretchen 18, their step-mother kicked them out...and Gretchen is still afraid of the woods. So here they are driving across the country to South Carolina. Swapping out the dense forests of their childhood home for the sandy beaches and ocean views, when their care breaks down outside a small town called Live Oak, South Carolina.

That's when it all starts. With no money for a tow or repairs Ansel agrees to help Sophia with odd jobs around her candy shop. But Sophia has secrets. Secrets Ansel can't see through because he is blinded by her beauty. But Gretchen isn't has charmed by the candy maker. And she gets even more cautious when she finds out that girls have gone missing. Vanished, they say...just like her twin sister. After Gretchen tries to put her fears aside, and ventures into the words behind the candy store one night, she finds what she has spent her life scared of. The witch is back. But it's not at all what she thought all these years. It's worse...and only one person can help her. Samuel the "town lunatic", but will he agree to help her?

Relationships build, the twist keep twisting, and it all come down to Gretchen in the end. Will she be able to put an end to this before more girls vanish, or will the trees in the forest forever be a place of terror?

I don't care what you have to do to get your hands on this book. I'm not opposed to suggesting petty theft even. But do whatever it takes to read this. It will pull at your heart, and leave you shaking in your boots long after you turn the last page!
Profile Image for Cheryl.
964 reviews
September 25, 2016
A YA novel that's a retelling of Hansel and Gretel in a contemporary Southern Gothic setting. The characters are interesting and well-developed, and the plot is intriguing. Parts of the story are more than a little creepy. A quick read that's recommended.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,232 followers
August 22, 2011
Sweetly is a companion novel to Sisters Red (which I have, but haven't read), so even though the two aren't dependent on each other, I'm sure there are things that happen in Sisters Red that would have expanded my understanding of things in Sweetly.  That being said, it reads fine as a stand alone, so if you've been holding back from reading it because you feel you need to read Sisters Red first, don't worry, you don't have to.

Now, on to the story at hand.  Sweetly is a really interesting take on the Hansel and Gretel story for me.  There were things I really didn't like or didn't feel added to the story - and I am going to discuss them - but for the most part, I enjoyed this thoroughly.  Before I get into picking it apart as I am wont to do, just know that I think this is a book worth your time.

Because of Gretchen and Ansel's past (losing their sister in the woods, losing both parents, being blamed and hated by their stepmom, etc), there is a real darkness to the beginning of the story.  Gretchen is reclusive, having dropped out of school and avoiding social interaction; she lives her life terrified of the "witch in the woods".  She doesn't understand why her twin - her other half - was taken and she was spared, and she is basically just biding her time, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the witch to get her, too.  Ansel is her protector, but all is not right with him, either.  He's a football star who once told Gretchen  that he liked football because "he liked getting hit.  That being knocked to the ground reminded him he was here."  So there's this sort of desolation to the beginning of the story that I really liked.  It felt true - these characters would feel like this, and would be trying to work through things like this - and it also helped paint the story with a sense of foreboding and sadness that I think is appropriate to the story.

There came a point where it changed, though.  What started as this dark story about healing, with almost magical realist elements, eventually becomes something more...typical, I guess.  Just another teen paranormal story.  I don't want that comment to be construed as a bad thing, because it wasn't.  For what it is, it is well-done.  But the insight and sadness that I saw in the beginning I thought was a sign of the tone of the whole, and of something a little more being injected into the story.  But for the most part, it wasn't.  Gretchen's is still a story of healing in some respects, but for the most part, the story is a straightforward paranormal romance.  It made it feel a little disjointed to me, perhaps just because of my expectations, and that was a little bit of a letdown.  But once I adjusted my thinking to the story at hand rather than the story I thought I would be getting, it was completely enjoyable.

I really REALLY enjoyed the world-building.  Jackson Pearce creates a little bubble in Live Oaks that has its own crazy shenanigans going on, but that still feels like a real town with real people in it.  Sophia's chocolatier, though improbable, set out in the middle of nowhere  (how much gourmet chocolate does a small town really buy? Especially if they have to go out into the middle of nowhere to get it, rather than through the checkout line at the Piggly Wiggly?), was at least really interesting and atmospheric.  It was a fun, modern take on the Gingerbread Cottage, and it brought with it a sense of magic in a more mundane way (invigorating lemon peels and calming gingerbread chocolates, rather than spells and potions and obvious (overthetop) magic).  It gave the story ambience, and had the side-effect of leaving me with a persistent craving for dark chocolate truffles.  (Which is rather cruel, Ms. Pearce.  I blame you for the brownies I consumed.)  But this was good.  It was almost a full sensory experience.  I would have liked a little something different in the handling of Sophia's storyline (Gretchen's constant mistrust did nothing for me, and w/o spoilers, Sophia's motivations and actions as it comes out in the end were...eh, so-so for me.  Somewhat rushed and contrived).  But all in all, I found Sophia, her world and her interactions with everyone interesting.

The relationship building in the story worked for me, too, on most levels.   I thought the town's mingling of awe and distrust for Sophia was interesting, and I loved getting to know her through Gretchen and Ansel.  I liked her slight desperation, and her mirroring of Gretchen, and I liked how they come to just belong at her chocolate shop and be a part of her non-existent family.  The relationship between Gretchen and Ansel was really lovely, too.  The way they looked out for each other and always new what the other was thinking or feeling, it made sense given their history, and it was also a nice place to start and then watch them grow and begin to be comfortable on their own.  The aspect of familial love is often over-looked and underplayed in stories, and it would have been a shame had that been the case here, as it is the perfect story to take advantage of that closeness and love.  Fortunately, Pearce used it to full advantage.

What didn't do it for me was Gretchen's relationship with Samuel.  I just didn't feel that it was necessary.  I mean, as sheltered and alone as Gretchen has been, it's fine to have budding feelings or awkwardness, or just a knowledge of potential.  But the relationship didn't add anything to the story for me, and I didn't feel it was all that realistic to happen (so quickly! And obviously!) for either party. They both had shit to deal with, and it was enough of a story to have them dealing with that shit, with maybe hints of potential for romance in the future.  If anything, I think it became a bit of a distraction, and felt like just the obligatory YA paranormal romance.  I would have respected the story - and Pearce - more with the restraint to keep romance light or non-existent, and to focus on the deeper issues at hand. There was a little bit of plot-holiness with the crux of the story, too, which I don't want to get into (spoilers!), but that left me feeling like the reasons behind things were a bit thin.

And there you have it.  It's a bit of a mixed bag, with some largish things I didn't like, but an overall thumbs up.  I know that part of this is me being picky because of what I saw in the book.  When the potential for something I'm going to love is there, it KILLS me to not see it realized, and I always go harder on the book then.  But that's my own nonsense to deal with, and I really did enjoy this book.  I'm a sucker for retold fairy tales (as you know), and this one is one of the better modern retellings.  I'm certainly looking forward to having a break in my schedule to read Sisters Red.  And even more than that, I am very eager indeed for the next book, Fathomless.  I think, from the end of Sweetly, that I have some hints as to where that story will be going, and I am intrigued.  It'll be a wishlister, for sure.
Profile Image for Eleanor.
576 reviews112 followers
January 1, 2019

This book was actually a lot better than I was expecting it to be, and I am glad. I think I first read Sisters Red back in 2015, and I loved it so much, but my reading tastes have changed a lot since then. But this was actually super enjoyable and this series has stood the test of time pretty well. That being said, I think I preferred Sisters Red over this one, but I did like it a lot. If you are looking for a good fairytale retelling, then I recommend this series. They are pretty dark, but still relatively easy to read, and personally I really like them. I want to read the next book. Also, in case you are wondering, this series has different characters and doesn't really follow the same plot at all, but they are all loosely linked by one element and I think they are set in the same universe. So the next book will kind of continue this adventure.

Sweetly is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, but with werewolves. It is a pretty dark premise and doesn't shy away from the gore. We follow Gretchen and her brother Ansel (Gretchen tells the story in first person). When they were younger, Gretchen's twin went missing in the woods, and their family kind of fell apart. The story really starts when they are older and have left home, and they end up in this town where they meet a girl called Sophie (who bakes lots of cakes!). Obviously. lot more stuff happens after that, but you shall have to actually read the book! I really liked the parallels it drew with the original fairytale, while putting a modern and more urban fantasy twist on it. And Jackson Pearce is very skilled at creating an eerie atmosphere in her novels.

The characters I found interesting, but I wasn't super attached to them. Perhaps it was the vaguely simplistic writing - although really, it wasn't bad, just not my favourite style. Gretchen I liked, but again, she wasn't a character that I could get really obsessed with. Sophie was an interesting figure though, and she incited quite a lot of questions. She is quite unreliable and you are never really sure about her. I didn't really care for Ansel at all - nor any of the romance. I cared more for the characters in the first book.

The plot is pretty good though. While not being overly complex, it has some good twists and turns, and is really well paced. It keeps you hooked throughout the whole book. I really liked some parts of it - it brought back some nostalgia from reading the first book for the first time, and the whole werewolves element is so great. I love the way that it is done (and its pretty creepy too). I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but I think the ending of the book could lead us into a really interesting premise for the next one.

All in all, I really enjoyed this, despite it being a little disappointing in the character part of it. I would definitely recommend the series though, and even though you could read this one without reading the first book, I would suggest reading the series in order, because there is a loose thread that joins them all together, and it makes for a more fulfilling read. I liked the premise and the plot, and I am looking forwards to finally finishing this series that I started so very long ago (well, in my eyes, anyway).
Profile Image for Gem.
63 reviews
January 9, 2012
Oh, I feel so deceived. I picked this up believing it to be a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Yes, the cover and blurb made it perfectly clear it was a teen romance: I was aware of that. There was nothing, however, to warn me about the werewolves. I do not remember werewolves in Hansel and Gretel.

Oh, Ms Pearce, why did you have to stray down that path? Your book really started off with potential: I liked the idea of there being a third child that the witch in the woods took, I liked the scenario of the two remaining children growing up with that guilt. Perfect fairy tale set-up.

But the entrance of werewolves into the story caused (in my opinion) all originality to be lost. (Yes, I know one could argue there is little originality anyway when *retelling* a well known fairy tale but werewolves have been done to death recently.) The idea of a witch was something different, something interesting. All the business of missing girls, Sophia in league with the wolves, the wolves holding Nadia captive, twins and their special souls, yada yada yada. Boring. It was all so obvious.

It's such a shame because Pearce's writing style held promise. Although her characters were a little flat and inconsistent, I did find at times that I was mildly captivated. And I was happy that the romance aspects did not take centre stage and control the novel. Yes, girl met boy, they liked each other, they kissed, but there were bigger things at stake. That was not what I had expected and I was grateful for it.

If I was being generous, I would suppose that Pearce's idea was to combine Hansel and Gretel with Little Red Riding Hood - the wolves, the girls in red, the woods, the huntsman & killing of the wolves - but I still believe there was no need for it. She could have told a perfectly good -- probably better -- story without falling into the trap of writing just what she believed is popular.

Oh! And something I forgot: You really really cannot use "sparkly" as a description for someone. People are not "smiling and sparkly". They just aren't.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Priscilla.
146 reviews9,680 followers
November 8, 2011
The title fits this book perfectly! Seriously sweet. :)

Initial thoughts:
1. Majority of the plot is steady, and slow paced. Heavy in the mystery, and nice touches with the foreshadowing.
2. Characters are sweet and likeable! No irritating flaws, but weighted with lot's of baggage. Really liked the character development with Gretchen.
3. Adorable, budding romances! It's not hot, or intense. The romance is definitely a nice addition to the overall plot. No love-at-first sight, eye-rolling romance here! Just sweet and cute which I liked. :)
4. Jackson Pearce knows how to write action sequences! Condensed mainly towards the end, but really well executed.
5. Love the connections to Sisters Red! I WANT CROSSOVER WITH CHARACTERS!!!! :D

Video review uploading as I type!
Profile Image for Hannah.
137 reviews24 followers
August 7, 2015
Plot: I ADORE A FAIRYTALE RETELLING…ESPECIALLY A GOOD ONE! And this is a good one! EVEN BETTER I READ ANOTHER BOOK IN A DAY! Sweetly is a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel. In the opening chapter we see the traditional style of the story Ansel and Gretchen and Gretchen’s twin sister head into the wood to find the witch. Believing it to be just a fairytales but suddenly the are attacked and only Ansel and Gretchen are the only two to come out. Years later the siblings are moving to a new town but end up in a small town where they stay with the local chocolatier. I loved this story, I did not expect a lot of what happened and thought it was such a clever twist on the tale. The plot was really solid and gripping; it was written really well and had a brilliant amount of description especially around the chocolate. I loved it!

Characters: Gretchen was a beautifully written character! I thought her emotions where played out really gracefully and where honest. She was really determined and also funny, making her a really well rounded character. I also really liked the message she sent to face your fears and to push yourself to do what you can for others.

Ansel was a complete opposite to Gretchen which was really interesting and he in an interpreted way stays very true to the traditional character he starts out the leader and then put all his trust or is too naïve I guess to see the dangers on the witch or in this case the sweet making Sophia.

I was actually fairly glad with the character that Sophia ended up being. To avoid spoilers let’s just say from the minute I first saw her I was so scared of what they would do with her character and I was happily surprised. She is just portrayed as this good soul and is really well written with an incredibly interesting past. There are moments you really do feel sorry for her!

Finally, Samuel who is the mysterious character love interest. Of course, he is the stereotypical bad boy at the start with the guns and the motorcycle but I really loved how his character developed and interacted with Gretchen. The way he progressed was gradual and this made your view of him change with the same speed which I really liked!

Favourite aspects: Of course the fairytales elements and how well they were done. I was not disappointed with the retelling there were clear links but it still followed its own individual plot so held my interest the whole way though and although I kept trying to guess based on the story but it kept me on my toes!

Themes: The loss is a really interesting theme in the book. There is this big loss that all the characters really go through and this made it easy to create links in the story and the topic was covered really well. The family links are also really interesting and the lengths that love for family creates.

Structure: The novel starts with the opening chapter when they are still children and then this jumps forwards to the time when the story takes place. From there it follows a traditional structure where the storyline progresses naturally making it a fairly easy read. The narrative voice is Gretchen’s and is written in the first person that makes it really easy to side with her but it is not really a problem and she gives honest 2 sided opinions and comments.

Profile Image for Jasmee.
13 reviews
December 30, 2014
I didn't really enjoy this book,I've basically guessed the whole plot of the book by the time I was finished with the first few chapters, So basically the whole book was boring from page fifty onward or way before that. I totally just speed read most of it until the very few last twenty pages of the book, because everything in the middle was either already guessed or just contained no plot whatsoever. Just no no no, I am so glad that this book is over. And really, the character Gretchen was just so annoying that makes me hate her, really, she was like self-hating for most of the book, quite ignorant, kept saying "witch" way even after she knew they are Fenris, and kept mentioning how she couldn't say her missing sister's name because it would bring painful thoughts, but really, if she kept reminding herself not to say the name, she was already thinking about her sister. And the other thing about Gretchen that I hate, she kept saying that Ansel, her brother, was her rock, and repeating for like one thousand times throughout the whole book. I mean if you are so keen on how your brother was your rock, why didn't you just call him Peter, or why Jackson didn't just name him Peter. Oh, wait, because this book is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, wait so basically no one's name was right... and the fact that Ansel was Gretchen's freaking brother, not a rock (something Gretchen kept having problems in remembering). And I don't think this could be considered as a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, I mean where is the which and the candies? Yeah, I mean there were plenty of different chocolates mentioned, but candies??? And the witch??? Where is the witch?? Why was the witch now werewolves?? That was just too much like Sister Red, this isn't a freaking retelling of Little Red Riding Hood anymore, Jackson. And really, there weren't that many appearances of the werewolves in the book. Maybe this retelling is either too modern or creative.... Cursing myself for buying almost every single one of her retelling books, maybe I should start self-pitying like Gretchen, and start thinking that I am missing half of me or something...
Profile Image for Miss Bookiverse.
1,967 reviews73 followers
June 30, 2012
Liebes Sweetly,
wir trafen uns an einem sonnigen Wochenende Ende Februar und verbrachten zwei wundervolle Tage auf unserer saubequemen, neuen Couch und auch ein bisschen Zeit am Vormittag im Bett während A. noch schlief und träumte.

Du hast mit deinen beiden roten Schwestern einiges gemeinsam, aber ich finde dich auch allein ganz fantastisch. Genau wie deine Schwestern beginnst du mit einem gruseligen Prolog, einige eurer Figuren teilen sich den Familiennamen und auch sonst hab ich in dir einiges gefunden, dass ich in Sisters Red schon mal gesehen habe.
Euch alle verbindet vor allem das Geschwistersein. Während Rosie und Scarlet sich nur wie Zwillinge fühlen, hast du sogar einen echten zu bieten, nämlich Gretchen. Die hat außerdem noch einen großen Bruder namens Ansel. Du hast mir immer wieder erzählt wie nahe Gretchen und Ansel sich stehen, wie eng sie das Verschwinden ihrer Schwester zusammengeschweißt hat. Leider hab ich dir das nicht ganz abgenommen. Du hast mir kaum Momente zwischen Ansel und Gretchen gezeigt, mir immer nur vorgeschwafelt wie nahe die beiden sich angeblich stehen. Ansel hast du mir generell nicht näher vorstellen wollen, ich vermute du wolltest ihn lieber für dich behalten. Zum Glück hast du ja Gretchen und Sophia mit mir geteilt. Während Sophia die meiste Zeit ein spannendes, gefühlszerrissenes Rätsel bleibt, konnte ich Gretchens Gedanken immer direkt mitverfolgen. Danke dafür, ich mag die beiden wirklich gern, weil sie so vielseitig und unperfekt sind.

Jackson Pearce hat es mit dir wirklich gut gemeint und all ihr Können erneut gesteigert. Deine schwüle, düstere Atmosphäre hat mich eingefangen wie Honig eine Fliege. Die Hitze und der süßliche Geruch der Schokolaterie haben mich genau wie Gretchen eingelullt. Du beschreibst alles so treffend und verfällst auch in romantischen Szenen niemals dem Kitsch. Ich könnte keinen einzelnen Satz aus dir zitieren, es ist der Gesamteindruck und die Atmosphäre, die du mit all deinen Worten erzeugst, egal ob romantisch, lecker-verführerisch, mysteriös, einfühlsam, actionreich oder richtig gruselig.

Obwohl Hänsel und Gretel dein großes Vorbild sind, hast du mich nie mit altbekannten Handlungssträngen geknebelt. Stattdessen begnügst du dich mit kunstvollen Parallelen. Über die Szene, in der Sophia Ansel hilft seinen Ring vom Finger zu zerren, musste ich sehr schmunzeln. Oder die Situation, in der Ansel im Schuppen eingesperrt wird. Nicht zu vergesen natürlich das Motiv des Unheil verkündenden Süßigkeitenhauses im düsteren Wald.

Trotz deiner unheimlichen, mysteriösen Stimmung hat Gretchen dein Hexen-Rätsel relativ schnell aufgelöst. Leider hat mich die Enthüllung enttäuscht, ich hatte auf ein originelleres Grauen gehofft. Zum Glück haben die Hexen-Szenen dadurch nichts von ihrer Schaurigkeit eingebüßt.

Die volle Punktzahl hättest du von mir bekommen, wenn ich am Ende nicht das Gefühl gehabt hätte, dass du mir noch was verschweigst.

In Liebe,
Infinite Playlist

PS. Ich hoffe, ich habe deinetwegen nicht zugenommen. Es ist ja unverschämt wieviel hingebungsvolle Schokoladenkreationen du mir verabreicht hast!
Profile Image for Saarah.
53 reviews52 followers
January 10, 2016
okay, this book was on my currently reading shelf for a while, and I was thinking about dropping it, but i'm so glad I didn't. right now i'm really into retelling stuff, and this was a great one about hansel and gretel (ansel and gretchen). okay, how to start....the characters.
I honestly don't usually love main characters, but gretchen was great. she wasn't like, oh, i'm super brave and awesome, and she wasn't like super weak and wimpy and whiny. I loved how she could relate to normal people, and how she actually thought and then acted. most main characters just looove to jump into trouble and make really idiotic decisions, and then congratulate themselves for making those choices, but she wasn't like that at all. I also loved how in the end she actually I was truly amazed. moving on...
I really liked ansel for his bravery and loyalty to gretchen. he was definitely an ideal brother. I actually don't have many thoughts on him, so.......
Samuel <3
samuel was awesome. I loved how he wasn't one of those unrealistically hot guys, but actually had faults and doubts. I loved how he was dubbed "crazy" and how he hunted the monsters, and I loved everything else about him too. it was great that he was pretty poor also, because let's face it, not all hot guys are rich. and the last MC..
okay so, sophia was okay, I didn't have any problem with her, I guess. I think I knew from the beginning that she was I just didn't get why she was sad and lonely. I loved how she and gretchen could connect though, and overall she was nice. I liked how in the end she . that was great.

just like the characters, I loved this story. I didn't have a problem with anything, just that it was kinda similar to sisters red. like the werewolves and stuff. but that was okay. I liked the love interests, how it wasn't too fast or mushy or anything. and the writing was great too. umm, I hope i'm not forgetting anything.....yeah okay, that's all ^^ I can't wait to read the next book!
June 27, 2011
*published on Mundie Moms on June 26, 2011*

Jackson Pearce's companion book to last year's Sisters Red plays with the familiarity of "Hansel and Gretel" while using Jackson's own world of the dark and disturbing Fenris. A stop in a small town and an introduction to the local chocolatier, Sophia, leads Gretchen on a journey of not just self-disovery but also of resolution. The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Gretchen's own twin sister is somehow connected to the identical strange disappearances of young girls in Live Oak. And these disappeances appear to be linked to the Chocolate Festival thrown by the sweetly alluring Sophia.

Jackson's world-building skills are well honed as she constructs the slow, hot days which build up to the festival. Just like Gretchen, I was lulled into the predictability of each day. I awaited the fragrance of the latest confections and happily watched romance develop between Sophia and Ansel. But just as I grew comfortable with the story, Jackson started to build an unexpected twist in Gretchen's character. And one that I liked a lot. Let's just say that Gretchen quickly became one of my favorite characters of 2011.

Don't let the slow build-up and the sweet smell of candy fool you, there is one heart-pounding climax in those last 100 pages. And how Jackson resolves the mystery of the disappearing girls pays tribute both to the original folklore as well as her own Fenris mythology. This tale is not at all a sugar-coated fantasy but a story which will surprise you with its dark, romantic nature. I encourage all of you who enjoy a well-crafted, fresh take on a folktale to pour a glass of sweet tea and pick up Sweetly when it's released this summer.
Profile Image for Mary  BookHounds .
1,301 reviews1,790 followers
May 28, 2011
***slight spoilers***

In this new retelling of Hansel and Gretel (my first two dachshunds!), Jackson Pearce keeps the witch, adds some werewolves and a bit of creepiness that will really make you want to devour this. Ansel and his sister Gretchen have been thrown out by their stepmother when Gretchen turns 18 and they leave to drive as far as their car will take them. The car breaks down in Live Oak, SC where they find a job with the local candy maker, Sophia. It is rumored that she infuses her chocolate with magic and has a chocolate festival each year that leads the disappearance of teen girls. Gretchen still fearing the "witch" that stole her twin years ago is sensing the same activity here.

Sam, a local, is very vocal about the disappearing girls and blames Sophia. Ansel and Gretchen get drawn into Sophia's world and can't imagine that she has anything to do with it until a seashell turns up on her doorstep and Gretchen finds it. It gets increasingly spooky as Gretchen finds more clues and hooks up with Sam who gives her even more answers about what is happening in the small town which he blames rightly on the Fenris. The Fenris (werewolves) first appear in Sisters Red, which will add to this book, but it is not required to fully enjoy this one. I love these fairy tale mash ups and Jackson Pearce takes them to a whole new level with keeping the theme of werewolves believable and incredibly threatening through out while remaining true to the original story of Hansel and Gretel.
Profile Image for Kristi.
844 reviews202 followers
September 26, 2011

Sweetly is a fantastic retelling of a classic fairytale by Jackson Pearce. Ms. Pearce has again skillfully woven a fairytale that we all know into her very own ‘sweet concoction’. The retelling of the classic Hansel and Gretel story is dark and bittersweet, like the Godiva Hot Cocoa I’m inhaling down right now. It is deliciously spooky, sweetly romantic and darkly paranormal.

I won’t rehash the book as there are so many reviews and the synopsis does a fantastic job of letting people know what it’s about. I’d rather talk about how Ms. Pearce took Hansel and Gretel and made it her own. Her skillful narrative pulls you in with characters that you can’t help but relate to. Loss of a loved one, paranormal creepiness, first love, infatuation, lies and deceit-so many things going on, all intertwined superbly in a novel that explores an old fairy tale in a whole different light.

Yes, this is a short review but I hope no less powerful than if I had gone through the entire books contents. If you’ve read Sisters Red you’ll be pleased to see this is somewhat of a companion novel but if you haven’t read it, do not fear! It’s not necessary, Sweetly is a stand-alone book that will entertain, amuse and quite possibly creep you out a bit.

Profile Image for Maree.
804 reviews24 followers
October 12, 2011
Ansel and Gretchen . . . yes, the names do sound familiar. Perhaps a bit like Hansel and Gretel, from the traditional Brothers Grimm tale? In this story tale retelling, Pearce does a fantastic job of giving new life to the traditional story. Aside from the basics, it is completely reworked, injected with the life of the 21st century and many of its guilty pleasures.

I don't want to give too much away, but this fairy tale is far more terrifying than the original, and a very refreshing break from young YA books. While this is still definitely YA, it's still got that unpredictable feel that a lot of YA books seem to miss. And you've got a badass heroine in Gretchen, once she stretches herself and steps once again into the menacing forest that snatched away her twin sister and destroyed their family.

What I appreciated most was Sophia's story, and how she was dealing with her own problems out there in the forest as well. It's not black and white. Or yellow.
Profile Image for Caroline.
1,201 reviews143 followers
January 16, 2012
I had a much harder time getting invested in this than I have Jackson Pearce's previous books, and I was disappointed how this was turned into a companion novel to Sisters Red rather than truly standing on its own as a Hansel and Gretal retelling. While the twist was an interesting one, it just didn't feel exactly true to the story, although I guess it does work if Pearce is trying to do some world-building and expansion for different fairy tales to be inter-connected.

The protagonists this round didn't resonate so well with me, and the romances were fairly predictable. Still, Pearce has a solid writing style and it was enjoyable, it's just after Sisters Red this was a bit of a letdown.
Profile Image for Rianne Heartfilia.
451 reviews30 followers
February 9, 2017
I have bought Sister's Red in a hurry in Dutch. Something that I'm still a bit ashamed about. I liked Sister's Red but Sweetly is even better. I had tried to finish this in one sitting but of course I had to cook, I had to do something else, had a fight, and all things that happen in a normal day. Finally I decided to go to bed and continue reading this book instead of Inheritance. At exactly 00:25 I felt my eyelids got heavy and I knew I had to get up early the next day. I did, shaken by a nightmare and I'm still wondering if it came because of this book because that's a bit too much, wake up early and instead of heading down to shower, I tried to dooze off a little more before I realized I wanted to finish this book. That's what I did.

Maybe the end is a bit dramatic, for which I don't give the five stars rating. However from chapter six Pearce got me in a suspense already and I didn't want to stop reading. I liked Ansel and Gretchen, I first thought bit of weird names, bit too obvious but in the end it went fine. I was waiting for the realisation of Sophia all the time.

There is not too much to set about this book without giving too much spoilers. There is a lot of suspense. It never starts of as a sugar sweet story such as Fairy Tales do, it immediately starts with the blowing facts, following one after the other rapidly. Making a time jump but not leaving out the details that you need. For a few seconds (read: chapters) I thought that we would never hear the name of Gretchen her twinsister but Pearce casually mentions it when it is of significant proportion compared to the rest. Every piece of new information is delivered when it is necessary and when it has more than an explanatory need. Not everyone knows how to do that in my eyes.
Profile Image for Katie.
249 reviews4 followers
April 1, 2019
A para at one of my schools gave me this and insisted I read it. It was ok for a YA book, I guess. Not really sure why the world needed a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel that involved werewolves but here we are.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews547 followers
October 28, 2012
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Sugar and spice, death and lies make up this retelling of Hansel and Gretel

Opening Sentence: The book said there was a witch in the woods.

The Review:

Sweetly, the second book of the Fairytale Retellings series, Jackson Pearce tells her version of Hansel and Gretel. Like true Pearce fashion, she puts a twist in the story, truly making it her own in every way possible. And with the Fairytale Retellings series, I have to talk about the cover. The cover is eerily gorgeous, filled with branches twisting out to show you a not-so-hidden picture of a smirking face. It’s amazing and I instantly saw how far Pearce was going to go with the dark and scary.

Twelve years ago, a witch haunted the woods. Twelve years ago, Gretchen lost her twin and Ansel lost her sister, and a pair of yellow eyes changed their lives forever. As a result of the witch in the woods, Gretchen and Ansel’s family fell apart. Mourning and sadness left them to relocate to South Carolina. What seemed like a simple and quiet town, Live Oak, South Carolina had its own share of secrets and tragedy. Willing to start over Gretchen and Ansel found themselves on the doorsteps of Sophia Kelley, a candy maker all alone in the woods. Willing to forget their past, Ansel and Gretchen vow to start over. But once again, there is something dangerous lurking in the woods, one that has been affecting the small town for years now. Gretchen is determined to forget her past and fight back. But once she finds out what is going on, it might be too late.

Gretchen wasn’t someone that I instantly warmed up to. I automatically compared her to Scarlett from Sisters Red, and unfairly so. Losing a twin is tragic, not something that I could ever imagine, but I felt that Gretchen was stuck in the past. Gretchen struggles with why her sister was taken and why she was spared, waiting for the witch to catch up to her and take her as well. Despite where Gretchen is, she feels that the witch is waiting around the corner to take her as well. There is a turning point, when Gretchen finds her strength. She finally stands up for herself and takes the proper actions in protecting herself. This is the Gretchen that I love.

Pearce makes Ansel a supporting character, and I thought that was smart. It is clear that Gretchen is the main character, and that clearly sets it apart from any fairytale that Sweetly is based on. Ansel wasn’t someone that I really got to know, aside from the fact that Gretchen depended on him. I actually loved Sophia more. Sophia was full of secrets, having two different personalities. As a reader, I already saw the writing on the wall, but couldn’t wait to see how it would unfold. I was always at the edge of my seat trying to find out what would happen with Sophia and why she would do it. I loved the suspense!

In true Pearce fashion, the world of Sweetly was amazing. Each detail added to the depth of darkness that Pearce took it to. What should be a sweet fairytale was the exact opposite, showcasing the dark and evil lurkings behind closed doors. It made for a fantastic read filled with many surprises. There is a poetic justice about Pearce’s writing that had me engaged at all times. Even if I didn’t particularly like the character, their actions, or the specific scene, I always found myself wanting to read another word, another page, or another chapter. But isn’t that the workings of a great author? And the ending! Well, I can’t really talk about my favorite scenes, for it will spoil some surprises, but just trust me on this, Sweetly is worth the read!

Notable Scene:

My dreams are mostly nightmares—the witch charging, transforming into a hundred thousand werewolves. Then Samuel, stepping out of the darkness, followed by my father. But neither raises a hand to help me as the werewolves close in, and Ansel is nowhere to be found. At the very last moment my sister arrives with a rifle in hand, a shadow of a girl who steps out of my body and looks just like me; the werewolf turns and runs when it sees her. The dream repeats itself—I wake up at the end, then drift back to uneasy sleep only to dream it again.

Maybe Ansel’s lack of presence in the dream is why I don’t tell him about the witch the following morning—or maybe it’s because claiming to be chased by a werewolf is as unbelievable as claiming to be chased by a witch. My brother is in the storefront messing around with some of the shelving; our eyes meet very briefly.

I should tell him.

FTC Advisory: I purchased this copy of Sweetly. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Karin.
Author 15 books237 followers
December 29, 2010
In SISTERS RED Jackson Pearce put a new twist on the story of the Little Red Riding Hood. This time she is taking on Hansel and Gretel. I was extremely excited when I saw this ARC at a booth at the NCTE Conference and quickly grabbed it up when I got the chance. Now, I will start out by saying that SISTERS RED is my favorite book from 2010 so SWEETLY had a lot to live up to.

Gretchen and Ansel are on their own. Kicked out of their house by their stepmother after the death of their father has left them homeless, alone, and penniless. They travel as far as they can until their car breaks down in a small town called Live Oak in South Carolina. With no way to pay for the repairs to their car, they are left with little choice but to take what work they can fine. Ansel finds work as a handyman for the local chocolatier, a girl named Sophia. They soon find out that people don't like Sophia and consider her to be a danger to the community.

Every year Sophia has a Chocolate Festival. Young girls in the community hope for an invitation, but only the "right" girls get one. The community suspects Sophia of evil doings because every year after the festival a couple of girls disappear - never to be heard from again. As Gretchen gets to know Sophia while she helps her make candy she learns some things that make her wonder what is really going on in Sophia's life and with the missing girls.

When Gretchen meets Samuel things start to fall in place. She begins to take action and gain control of her life. Will she be able to save herself and the girls of Live Oak from the monsters in the woods?

SWEETLY didn't grab me like SISTERS RED. While set in the same world as the first book, this one didn't feel as intense. I didn't fall in love with any of the characters like I did with Scarlet, Rosie, and Silas. I'll eagerly read the next one Pearce writes, but hope it is better than this one.
29 reviews
October 1, 2011
This book was an improvement from Sisters Red and heck of a lot better then As You Wish.

But its not without its flaw.

For one the book started of slow and continued to be slow for 150 page, not that it was boring, it just did not hold my attention.
And I was not that fond of Samuel, Ansel, and Sophia.

For Samuel, even though you were supposes to think he's an ass in the being, I still don't like him that much even at the end.

Ansel...I don't know, I don't hate or love him, it just seemed that you were suppose to like him just because he was the main characters brother.

And for Sophia...What can I say, she one of those characters who you love or hate with a passion, and I can say I don't hate her nor do I love her. I was a bit pissed when I found out what she was letting happen, but at the same time I understand why she did it. And I would have done the exact same thing to......And that leads my back to pissed again. Why didn't she ever try to stop it? I know this is going to sound stupid considering what she was up against, but still she could have done something or tried to stop it someway.

Gretchen and Ms. Judy were my two and only characters that I like at all in this book.

Gretchen because, she grow up and got over her fears and faced them. And was totally badass at the end, and she only annoyed my two times in the book, which is saying something considering that this is a YA paranormal book told from a female POV.

And Judy was a crazy, paranoid old lady that was freakin' hilarious to read about.

The plot was pretty good after the half way point. And this book was also well written.

So four stars for 2 likable characters, a plot that actually somewhat shocking, and for the writing.

Profile Image for Donna.
1,050 reviews52 followers
September 18, 2012
I liked the setup and the focus on Gretchen's inner journey, but like Sisters Red, this didn't quite click.

The secondary characters felt flat, and I didn't care for them much. I did like Gretchen, but I was annoyed with her assumption that a near-stranger choosing to keep a family secret had to be up to something shady.

Sophia's actions made no sense. I didn't connect with Ansel or the surly love interest at all.

The fate of that first missing girl seemed like such an outlier that I guess it's setup for the next book in the series. It left an unsatisfying end on what could have wrapped up as a nice standalone story.

I really want to like these books more than I do. They've got some nicely-written passages, especially the descriptions. But both of them have had annoying issues of character and motive that keep them in the "unmemorable fluff" category for me.
Profile Image for Natalie.
201 reviews29 followers
January 23, 2014
Wow that was a fast read.
I loved sister's red thanks to my boyfriend and I loved sweetly just as much. My boyfriend picked both of these from the library for me I'm so glad he did. I'am now getting my boyfriend to pick all my books he seems to have good taste for a guy!
God I love these covers I know I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover but come on these covers are so pretty love the art style. Sweetly has yet again a very gothic creepy pretty cover. Really need to buy these now. The contents is as good as the covers do not fear!
Sweetly is yet again a fairy tale retelling you guessed it hansel and gretel. The way this story was retold in this book was very unique and captivating. We all know the story we are told as kids but to be honest this book is very different to that story. Yes it loosely has bits from that original story. Overall though this was a story of it's own where I didn't know what was going to happen in the end.
I wouldn't say this is a sequel of sister's red it's more a companion novel. So I would say you could pick this up without reading the first. Be warned though you won't pick up on some similarities that are ongoing in these books.
So yes loved this book just as much and god it made me crave sweets all the way through. Yes there's a little romance but is not overwhelming.
I'am really liking Jackson Pearce's writing and loving where these books are going.
If you haven't checked these out yet you need to NOW !
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
893 reviews253 followers
July 19, 2020
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Short and Simple Review
This was an okay read. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't find it particularly memorable. I don't see Hansel and Gretel retellings in YA often, so this was a little different. I do think the author did a great job of twisting the tale while keeping her own voice. By the end it did feel like it was trying to tie more into the previous book in the series, but since it's been more than seven years since I've read Sisters Red, I didn't always catch the references. The setting was really well-written, and I could clearly feel the tension in the town. Gretchen was also a great MC, though, as the book progressed, I got tired of her trying to find meaning in everything. Not everything has to have a meaning. The book ended with some questions. Maybe those will be answered in the companion books, but it doesn't look like it.

I didn't like this book as much as Sisters Red, but my reading tastes have changed since I've read that book, so my original feelings may no longer be the same. I'm likely not going to continue the series. I liked this book, but as it's not that memorable, I'm not moved to read the companion books. Maybe if I see them at used book sales I'll pick them up, but for now I'm not planning on continuing the series.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
April 8, 2018
This series is so freaking good!

Sweetly is a Hansel and Gretel retelling! I don't think I've read a Hansel and Gretel kind of book so I was really intrigued by this one. So in this book, Gretchen and her brother Ansel are kicked out of their stepmother's house. However, this is no ordinary story of these two siblings. No- Gretchen had a twin sister who was mysteriously taken. Also, their parents died.. just make that even more miserable for you.

So Gretchen and Ansel drive to a faraway town that doesn't like outsiders. They thought it was perfect for them - especially when Ansel got a job at the local bakery. Of course, their happiness doesn't last long because Gretchen believes that the witch who took her sister is back. With the help of Samuel, who is one of the town's outcast, Gretchen can hopefully face her fear.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and the characters. This series seems amazing to me right now (it could be the wine or the food..but I'm enjoying it nonetheless!). I can't wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,353 reviews160 followers
August 13, 2016
Sweetly is the third book I've read by Jackson Pearce and I have to say that I love reading her books. I love her writing style. Her stories just suck you right in. I could taste the chocolates in the candy shop as I read this book and got quite the craving!

This is a companion book to Sisters Red, which is based on Red Riding Hood. This one is not a continuation of that story, but is based on Hansel and Gretel. However, this book does tie into the world of Sister's Red, and I think Ms. Pearce did a wonderful job of tying them together. Her books in this series are creepy, so this was the perfect Halloween read; and the romance in this book, just like the others is sweet, but not overdone.
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