The story of Hansel and Gretel really is scary when you look at it afresh, as candy, cakes and a gingerbread house lure children into mortal peril in the eerie forest of the witch.
Jackson Pearce has given the Grimm Brothers version a mordant twist as rumors of possible witches near a small Southern town turn out to be much worse than anyone feared.
Published just last week, Sweetly will undoubtedly make the bestseller list - but you found it here first! Grab it at your local independent bookstore today, or get on the waiting list at your library - and lock your doors when you read it!
Book info: Sweetly / Jackson Pearce. Little Brown, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]
Recommendation: In the woods of their childhood, Gretchen and Ansel lost their sister - even as the three held hands and ran from the sounds, she was snatched away from them. Their mother died from grief, their father mourns still, their stepmother finally pushing the now-teen siblings out of their home.
Driving as far away as their old car and their savings will carry them, they roll to a stop near Live Oak, a small South Carolina community that's dwindling away as modern life tempts its young people away to the big city. Young chocolate-maker Sophia invites them to stay with her at the charming sweetshop outside of town, lonely after her father and sister have left. Her candy creations taste magical; her hospitality is warm and authentic.
The townspeople of Live Oak are rather wary of the newcomers, but do warn them of strange occurrences in the woods near Sophia's place and even about Sophia herself. The missing persons posters in the Post Office all feature older teen girls - if they just moved away to the city as Sophia says, why haven't they contacted their families?
As Sophia's famous girls-only chocolate festival approaches, Gretchen meets a young man who claims knowledge about the monsters in the woods, monsters that sound like the ones in her recurring nightmares about her twin's disappearance.
Can Gretchen trust Samuel when folks in Live Oak say he's part of the trouble in the woods? Is there a link between the chocolate festival and the disappearing teens? Have she and Ansel walked into a trap created by their own past?
Enjoy this spooky, enthralling take on the Hansel and Gretel story with the lights on, windows locked, and shades drawn against what may be lurking in the woods near your house!