Friday, January 20, 2012

Paranormal Pick: Sweetly

by Jackson Pearce
Little Brown
310 pages

Read an excerpt here

Part fairy tale, part fantasy, part romance and part paranormal, girls will like this tale of a brother and two sisters who get lost in a forest. Gretchen remembers a witch chasing them and her witchy yellow eyes burning through the forest. Somehow, they lose their sister, Gretchen's twin.

Ansel and Gretchen's mother mourns the loss of her child and is never the same. Her father remarries an evil stepmother who kicks the kids out when their father dies. On the road and nearly out of money, their Jeep breaks down outside a small town named Live Oak near the beach in South Carolina. The town is creepy and nearly deserted; the brother and sister are not welcomed by Southern hospitality. In fact, people in Live Oak stick to their own business and try not to speak to outsiders at all.

Lucky for the kids, a man they meet in the diner offers to drive them back to their Jeep to pick up their suitcases and offers to drop them off at a chocolate shop outside of town where the owner Sophia needs a handyman to complete a few jobs around her house and shop. On their way out of the diner, a teen boy stops Gretchen and warns her about Sophia--to stay far away from her and not to trust her.

The candy shop is beautiful and magical; the scent of vanilla is cloying and draws customers as if by magic into the shop. The confections Sophia creates affect her customer's moods.

Soon, Gretchen is helping Sophia in the shop and Ansel is mending the roof and the fences. Life is idyllic until Gretchen goes for a walk in the woods at night (having seen a witch take her sister, you would think she would never enter a wooded place--but she ate lemon candies which caused her to be brave). Gretchen runs for her life, and Samuel--the boy from the diner--shoots the "witch." He calls them Fenris, or werewolves.

Soon, it will be time for the annual chocolate festival that Sophia puts together for all the girls of Live Oak. There's only one problem: girls go missing each year right after the festival. Townfolk believe they're being snatched and murdered and blame Sophia and her festival. This year, Sophia is having trouble getting her r.s.v.p invitations back. Girls are afraid to attend.

The festival is just around the corner and Gretchen and Samuel practice shooting rifles. Something is out in the woods and something is stealing the town's young girls. Sophia is keeping a few dangerous secrets and Ansel is falling in love with her.

Readers who liked Shiver, Twilight, and other vamp/wolf books will be drawn to this one. The cover is wickedly appealing--at first glance, it appears to be a house in the woods, but on closer inspection, it's an evil witch's face. Great cover appeal and the quote from Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush trilogy), "If you love your romance hot, your bad guys downright dirty, and your heroines real enough to bleed, this is your book!" will attract legions of teen book store browsers to want a copy of their own.

Recommended grades 7-up. A couple of curse words that network television allows. No sex. A couple of kisses.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library at the Austin Teen Book Festival in October 2011 after meeting Jackson Pearce, who is, by the way, just as charming as she is entertaining. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

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