The Sweetest Spell
Author: Suzanne Selfors
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
*I received a copy of the book via Netgalley for review. All opinions are my own.
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.I'm just going to be honest here, for having such a whimsical, maybe even comedic, story line, I really didn't expect this story to as good as it was! To have the ability to make chocolate is cool, and I'd definitely want it, but for that to be the central point around which the story revolved? I was skeptical. But kudos Suzanne Selfors, kudos for taking this strange idea and spinning it into an amazing story with fantastic world-building, great characters, and touched on rather serious topics.
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.
Emmeline Thistle, who is born with a deformed foot, is looked down upon by everyone in her village, and by everyone in all other villages for being born a "dirt-scratcher." This girl was absolutely amazing. Emmeline was such a selfless and caring character and in her journey of fighting for her people, you could not help but root for her success. She goes through so much in this story, yet never loses her strength and faith.
This book is written in dual POVs switching between Emmeline and Owen Oak, a boy who saves her life, and I normally don't like switching POVs, but I think it worked so well in this book! Not only did it give me a glimpse into both Emmeline and Owen's thoughts, it also allowed me as a reader to see much more of this fictional world that Selfors has created.
Selfors creates such a vivid setting in Anglund, I had no problems picturing each place the characters visited. There's an old-timey, fairy-tale-esque feel of this land ruled by a royal family, and the magic of being able to create chocolate adds to that. Yes, the concept is kind of silly, but it's very well incorporated into the novel and Selfors made it very believable. I loved the back story of how this magical ability came to be.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the group of characters in this novel. Emmeline and Owen were great, but I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the secondary characters. Even the ones who were first portrayed as villains had some back story that gave them some possibility for redemption and made me empathize with what they did. The one thing I wasn't crazy about in the novel was that the romance was a little of the insta-love variety. I feel like Emmeline and Owen's feelings progressed way to fast, it was just too unrealistic. However, as the novel progressed, I really did like them together. I don't consider the romance to be an overwhelming part of the novel, because there's SO much more to the plot than hey-I-just-met-you-and-this-is-crazy-but-let's-live-happily-ever-after.
Rating: 4 stars
All in all: The Sweetest Spell is a delightful and magical story about self-discovery and strength. This novel definitely exceeded all of my expectations and I highly recommend it!