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 after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival each year, 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.
REVIEW: I loved this book! The story is a wonderful combination of fantasy, fairy tale (think Hansel & Gretel and also Little Red Riding Hood), mystery, and horror. All of the elements that I really enjoy reading in a novel. I've never read anything by Jackson Pearce before but after reading this book, I may venture into other works of hers. Great writing style, never boring, and the characters were interesting. I just loved the imagery of a chocolate shop in the woods, the dark forest, the scent of vanilla everywhere, girls in red dresses attending an annual festival, etc. And of course the mystery of 18-year-old girls in town who have vanished for years in a row, immediately after the festival.
I would highly recommend this book to readers of fantasy, fairy tale, mystery, and horror.