Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review of The Sweetest Spell

Goodreads Summary: "Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher's daughter, has escaped death twice-first, on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability-she can churn milk into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.

Suddenly, the most unwanted girl in Anglund finds herself desired by all. But Emmeline only wants one-Owen Oak, a dairyman's son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances once tempted her to believe she might someday be loved for herself. But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains-no matter what the cost to Emmeline.

Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all.
The first line may have been what caught my attention but it was the narrative voice that had me falling in love and eager to read on. Quirky, clever yet on the outskirts, I knew immediately that this was a character that I would enjoy spending the next four hundred or so pages with. And I was right. Emmeline was an enchanting heroine, and not just in the magic that she was blessed with as a daughter of Kell. She wasn't the type to rush in with swords, or leading a rebellion, but a quieter heroine. She wanted the best for those that she loved and deep within she wanted the best for herself, but her own best and her best earned.

The saying goes that no man is an island, and mine that no character is a novel. Being the type of girl who loves a rollicking good cast leading her fictional pursuits I found myself smiling on the various cast members that I came across along the course of the novel. Some of them you only know for a brief amount of time, some for the forever that is the lifespan of the novel, others are only secondary and there for fulfill a role...and yet, they are all characters with secrets, whims, desires and flaws. They are products of their environments or lack their of. Fully developed, each and every one.

There are boys involved, delightful creatures for the most part and each of them an interest in their own rights. I'd put money on the fact that you'll recognize my love early on, be surprised by the growth of another and agree when I say that I desperately want to know more about the third and hope that there is a way for him to be a reoccurring character...somewhere...somehow.

I think my favorite aspect of the novel, ridiculous as some might find it, would be the inclusion of the cows themselves. In a way they fulfilled a role in the fairy tale oftentimes held by fairies, in most cases a type of fairy godparent. Though being a lover of cows myself, I have several snuggly ones in my reading chair, I thought it a stroke of genius to change their reputation from dull-plodding creatures to something greater. Basically, I love when authors turn standard archetypes on their heads. Instead of fluttering fairy-godparents caring for the child, she adored by cattle. Warm, gentle creatures.

Had it not been for a little skimming that I had done over others' reviews when I was trying to choose my own next read I wouldn't have known that The Sweetest Spell was a retelling though having read the novel even if I hadn't known it was a retelling of a classic fairy tale I would have thought it a fairy tale in its own right, much like Shannon Hale's masterworks. There's something in Suzanne Selfors writing that captures the style perfectly all the while assembling a quirky cast and twisting a few key points to make the public story, everyone's story her very own. This is what she has done to the story of the ugly duckling. And she has done it beautifully.

I received a galley of this courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.