As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch-like monster 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. When their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out as teens, they stumble upon a sleepy Southern town and are invited to stay with Sophia Kelly at her sweet shop. Sophia moulds candied magic: coveted treats that inspire confidence, bravery, and passion. Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel finally start to forget their haunted past - until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel, who gives Gretchen a reason to fear Sophia: girls have been vanishing at Sophia's annual chocolate festival, taken by the insatiable 'witch' of Gretchen's nightmares. Can Gretchen save herself, the girls of Live Oak, and Sophia? Of one thing, Gretchen is certain: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.
Pearce returns to the world of Sisters Red in this twist on "Hansel and Gretel." Ansel and Gretchen Kassel are survivors. A yellow-eyed witch stole Gretchen's twin sister years ago while the children were exploring the forest, and ever since, brother and sister have lived with guilt and the certain knowledge that the witch will return. After their father dies and their stepmother turns them out, Ansel and Gretchen head east, getting stranded in Live Oak, S.C., when their car breaks down. The locals seem hostile except for Sophia Kelly, proprietor of a sweet shop in the woods. Ansel is enamored, but Gretchen can't quite let down her guard. Her fears are justified when she sees yellow eyes in the woods again, 3,000 miles from home. The story revisits several themes from Sisters Red, including sibling bonds and betrayals, the loss of childhood innocence, and the sharp teeth of the big, bad world. Gretchen is a more nuanced character than the earlier book's Scarlett or Rosie, and her relationship with Ansel doesn't suffer quite as much from the trials they face together. Ages 15 up.