Monday, October 3, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

“Not everything is as sweet as it appears …”

As small children, Ansel, Gretchen and her twin sister venture further in the woods behind their house than they ever have before looking for the witch from a story they had read. Ansel didn’t believe in witches but his twin sisters did. When they realize that they are not alone. They take off running hand-in-hand. When Gretchen dares to look behind her, all she sees are yellow eyes. The three drop hands to run faster. As they reach their house panting, their parents scream, “Where is your sister?”

Twelve years have passed and Ansel is nineteen and Gretchen has just turned eighteen. Both of their parents have died and their step-mother tells them she no longer has an obligation to keep them on. With their meager belongings packed in the car, Ansel and Gretchen leave Washington State and head across the country to Folly’s Island, South Carolina. Unfortunately, their car breaks down just shy of their final destination in Live Oak. A town that is slowly dwindling, Ansel and Gretchen stick out like two sore thumbs. They soon have the pity of a kindly gentleman, Jed, who knows of someone in need of a handyman. Sophia Kelly is the town’s chocolatier who lives on the outskirts at the edge of the forest. Jed offers to take them to Miss Kelly’s place but not before a young man with green eyes comments, “Stay as far away from her as you can.”

Upon arriving at the candy shop, Gretchen sees that it looks like a gingerbread house, straight out of her imagination. Jed starts talking about it begin a spell and then she smells it, that sweet vanilla scent that makes Gretchen and Ansel think of their mother and lose all of their cares. It turns out that Sophia Kelly is a young, beautiful girl and Ansel is immediately smitten. While Ansel is working on the checklist, Gretchen follows Sophia into the candy kitchen where she tries Miss Kelly’s specialty and immediately gets an excitement rush. Soon Gretchen is spilling her guts and they tell each other their life stories. At the end of the day, Sophia invites Ansel and Gretchen to stay the night since they really have nowhere else to go. They reluctantly agree and before Gretchen can fall asleep, the warning of the green eyed young man echoes in her mind, “Stay away from her.”

Soon days turn into weeks and Ansel and Gretchen make new lives for themselves in Live Oak with Sophia Kelly. As Gretchen helps Sophia prepare for her annual chocolate festival for the young girls of the town, she begins to hear rumors of the young girls who have gone missing after Sophia’s festivals. The townspeople believe she talks them into leaving town. Ansel works up the courage to ask Sophia on a date and Gretchen offers to leave the house so that they can be alone. She reads on the front porch for a while before working up the courage to venture into the woods for a walk. She takes Sophia’s dog with her and soon they come across a creek. When Luxe cowers behind Gretchen and growls, she sees a man on the other side of the creek. She notices he has yellow eyes, she takes off running. He gives chase but she cannot tell at times if a man is chasing her or a large animal. When she escapes the woods, she turns and sees that a monster is now chasing her. As she is running down the road trying to escape, a shot rings out. Gretchen sees a real man standing over the body as it explodes to dust and disappears. He raises his gun at her and asks “Who are you?”

It turns out it is the green-eyed boy who gave her the warning about Sophia. He tells her that his name is Samuel Reynolds and that Gretchen’s witch is really a werewolf or Fenris. He is surprised when Gretchen tells him that one took her sister and she realizes the Fenris are responsible for the town’s missing girls. Samuel insists that Sophia is the only witch around but she disagrees. He retorts by saying remember that I warned you.

Who or what is Sophia Kelly? What has happened to the girls of Live oak? Who is Samuel Reynolds, town lunatic or Gretchen’s savior? Can Gretchen solve the mystery of the town’s missing girls before she becomes the next victim?

Join Jackson Pearce as she retells the classic fairy tale of “Hansel and Gretel”, her way. Sweetly is a companion book to Sisters Red. This is NOT a sequel but readers of Sisters Red will see notice where some previous knowledge is slipped in.

Visit Jackson Pearce's website.

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