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The Sweetest Spell Hardcover – August 21, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens; First Edition first Printing edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802723764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802723765
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-A fun and frothy romantic fantasy. Almost abandoned at birth because of a twisted foot, Emmeline has always been an outcast among her people, the Kell. When the king enslaves the men and her village is destroyed in a flood, Emmeline is taken in by Owen Oak and his family. She discovers that she can churn butter into chocolate-a food that's been lost for years in the land of Anglund. Romance blossoms, but the two are separated when the girl is kidnapped for her magical abilities. Short chapters that alternate between Emmeline's and Owen's narrations keep the story moving at a fast clip. Selfors's elegant prose is well suited for depicting both the sweetness of chocolate and of first love. However, there's plenty here for nonromance fans: fights, near misses with death, and even political intrigue when Emmeline ends up at the court of the king and queen of Anglund. The multiple versions of how chocolate disappeared, each representing a different political spin, add nuance to the narrative. Both characters are strong, and Emmeline's transformation from drab pariah to beautiful, powerful young woman will provide vicarious thrills for readers. A scene where she declines a marriage proposal from the handsome but arrogant Griffin Boar, who scorned her back in their village, is a particularly satisfying moment. While Emmeline's predicament wraps up a little too quickly and conveniently, her reunion with Owen is fully gratifying.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Born to a poor Flatlands “dirt-scratcher” and possessing a misshapen foot, Emmeline Thistle has always been shunned by local villagers, although she finds comfort and connection with the area cows. When her widowed father is recruited by the king’s military, she is left alone. Then her village is swept away in a flood, causing her to nearly drown, until Owen Oak, a well-to-do dairyman’s son, comes to the rescue. While recuperating in upscale Wanderlands, Emmeline discovers her unique magical ability to churn cream into chocolate—a delicacy of legend throughout Anglund. Soon others—from a seedy peddler to a king and queen—seek to exploit her gift, and Emmeline must run. Meanwhile, Owen is determined to find her, and their experiences, both individually and together, change lives in diverse and unexpectedly rewarding ways. Emmeline and Owen are sympathetically and complexly drawn, and their densely detailed, alternating stories incorporate suspenseful, edgy, and lively and sweet moments. Despite some predictable story elements, Selfors (Mad Love, 2011) spins an immersing blend of fantasy and fairy tale likely to draw and engage genre fans. Grades 8-11. --Shelle Rosenfeld

More About the Author

Suzanne Selfors lives on an island near Seattle where it rains all the time, which is why she tends to write about cloudy, moss-covered, green places.
She's married, has two kids, and writes full time.
Her favorite writers are Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Dickens, and most especially, Roald Dahl.
You can visit her at www.suzanneselfors.com.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 37 customer reviews
It tackles prejudice, greed, selfishness, handicaps, and love.
MAS
Beautifully written, the story welcomes and invites the reader into a world rich with details and vivid characters.
ButterfrogT
This book had a great story line, good characters, serious under tones, and a happy ending!
Laura Gruenewald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kristina's World of Books on August 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What I Loved
Story
In this world chocolate isn't created from cocoa beans, but with magic and that magic has disappeared from the world. Gasp, a world without chocolate isn't some place I could live happily. Our wonderful character Emmeline the dirt-scratcher people of the kingdom has been given the gift to make precious chocolate and now every greedy hand wants her. From beginning to end I didn't want to put this book down, I was completely entranced with every bitter and sweet moment that happens to Emmeline on her journey.
Characters
Emmeline Thistle: Not the common perfect character we usually read, but a girl reject by everyone in her village because of her misshapen foot and odd affinity with cows. Even with everyone treating her like trash she still has remained sweet and kinda, in a way a little of a Cinderella story. She won't let anyone or anything break her spirit and I love that about her, she is a wonderful character.
Owen Oak: What a wonderful guy and I love that he doesn't judge people. His passion and protect instincts are admirable.
Romance
There isn't romance in the since of kissing and actually showing attraction towards each other, but internal feelings that have yet to be expressed towards the other.
Stand Alone
I believe this is a stand alone book. I love reading single novels without series, with how many books I have that are series I enjoy reading individual books.

Didn't Like
Nothing, I just hope Suzanne writes more fairy-tale stories like this.

Recommendation
Great read for all those who love to read fairytales and love those sweet stories.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Inky on January 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was the book I picked for my Random Read in December. Honestly, it was just another fluffy fairy-tale reads to me. Maybe I've read a few too many lately and they're just mushing in my brain. Maybe I'm losing my appetite for them. I don't know what it was but this book just didn't hit the bar for me.

For one thing, it cracked me up to no end that the premise and all the problems that ensue were over chocolate. That they were SO SERIOUS about it. Okay, maybe I kinda take chocolate a little too much for granted. Maybe I could never ever even being to imagine what it would be like not to have chocolate. So maybe I'm biased, but what can I say? It was a good laugh.

But in all seriousness, beyond the chocolate, but plot wasn't that interesting. It was just your typical adventure book, oh no she's captured! Oh yay the hot prince has to go rescue her! Oh they keep just missing each other! OOOOH! Yeah lots of O's. I mean I dunno, it was cute, but it felt like a drag most of the time. By 150 pages I was skimming to finish the last 250. I just didn't care anymore. It's not like I hated it...just..no. Nothing held my interest. The only reason I finished was because I've DNFed WAY to many books lately, and this was my Random Read.

Emma was okay. She was a nice narrator but nothing extraordinaire. And I'm all about the extraordinaire. I didn't feel like I could connect to her. She was just telling the story and yes going through things and falling in love but just No. Sorry Emma. Give me backbone. Give me yourself. Maybe a little insight into who you are? Oh you don't want to? Okay then, thanks for your time.

How do I even being to talk about the romance...? It was like this: So, this girl who's like the lowest of the low moves into town.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Bardsley on August 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The Sweetest Spell" is a fantasy meets dystopian novel that reminded me a lot of the 1980s classic movie "The Princess Bride". It tells the story of club footed Emmeline, who is an outcast in her town until it is discovered that she can churn cream into chocolate. In Emmeline's world, beautiful is more beautiful, evil is more evil, and chocolate is more delicious than ever.

On a random note, I'm starting to wonder if author Suzanne Selfors has some serious mommy-issues she needs to deal with. In her book "Saving Juliet" Mimi's mother channels Joan Crawford and Lady Capulet is evil enough to rival any Disney stepmother. In "Coffeehouse Angel" the main character's mom is killed off before the story even begins. "The Sweetest Spell" has the worst mother of all, a wicked queen who is ashamed of her son's love interests, and intent on enslaving her entire country. Oh yeah, and Emmeline's mother was also killed off before the story even got going.

Since I'm a mom myself, I'm really glad that Suzanne Selfors isn't writing about me! But if I was a teenager, I would eat any of those storylines up.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ian Beck on October 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought The Sweetest Spell because the sample was promising (I'm a sucker for down and out but plucky heroines), and ended up tossing it aside in disgust when I hit the 75% mark. The book started strongly, but had several issues that pushed me out of the story or made me actively dislike the characters, including:

- The central premise is that the heroine is able to create chocolate. Which she does by churning cream, but instead of transforming into butter it transforms into chocolate. Presumably milk chocolate. This bugs the heck out of me; chocolate has a long and interesting history, and most of it has nothing to do with milk. Milk chocolate came around in the late 1800's in Europe, making it a very recent addition to chocolate products. To have an imaginary European-style medieval kingdom where chocolate is produced solely from milk strains credibility past the breaking point for me, and soured the entire book from the first time the heroine picked up a butter churn through until I stopped reading in disgust.

- Despite being sixteen or older, the characters are without exception entirely juvenile. The level of complexity of thought for everyone, from main characters to secondary characters to villains (including adults), feels like it belongs in middle school. Probably the best example of this (without offering any spoilers) is that the main character comes across someone who claims she has studied negotiation, and their advice is "if you have something other people want, make include something you are willing to give up when you make your demands so that they feel in control." Oookay, well that's not bad advice, but it's also a pretty simplistic way to understand negotiation and isn't going to get you very far in life.
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