Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): 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 magic: 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 its 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 thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.
My Summary: No matter how hard she tries, Gretchen can't make herself forget the night her sister was taken from the woods. Living without her twin is tough, and Gretchen and her brother Ansel seem to be stuck, unable to move forward with their lives.
Until the day when their stepmother kicks them out, and they find themselves on the road with nothing but the gas in their tank and a few dollars in their pocket. With nowhere else to go, they head for the beach - somewhere they know they'll be safe from the threat of the woods and the monster that snatched their sister.
But just as they're about to reach their destination, the car breaks down, leaving them stranded in the middle of a town that wants nothing to do with outsiders like themselves. They end up being invited to stay at the home of the local chocolatier... but something about her isn't quite right, and Gretchen is sure Sophia Kelly knows more about the string of disappearances of young women in Live Oak than she's letting on.
My Thoughts: This is my second book of Jackson Pearce's, and I was definitely not disappointed. Usually I'm not one for fairy-tale retellings, but Pearce has a dark, edgy style that makes the fairy-tales a lot more modern and easy to relate to. The romance is always there as well, but it's not the main focus of the story - a major plus. I also really liked how Sweetly was linked to Sisters Red, and in the way it was done, I'm hoping it means there's a lot more of Jackson Pearce's writing to look forward to (you'll know what I mean if you've read both books already... I'm not giving anything away!).
Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this book (and the author's other novels) to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA and stories that are a little darker and edgier than the usual.