Reviewed by Karin Librarian for TeensReadToo.com
In SISTERS RED, Jackson Pearce put a new twist on the story of 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 was my favorite book from 2010, so SWEETLY had a lot to live up to.
Gretchen and Ansel are on their own. Being 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 find. 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 into 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?
Unfortunately, SWEETLY didn't grab me like SISTERS RED did. 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. However, I'll still eagerly read the next one Pearce writes.