Review: The Sweetest Spell

Author: Suzanne Selfors
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children's
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Source: Bought
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

 If you are anything like me, you grew up listening to your parents read you fairytales. Fairytales, next to Dr. Seuss, was what created your desire to read, they were the first stories you ever heard, thus the most important type of stories that will forever be a part of you later in life. Their sheer creativity, imagination, and hidden morals prove to be unforgettable and take up permanent residence in the back of your mind. Thus, I believe that one of the toughest challenges an author can take on is the task of writing a fairytale retelling. Such stories are so close to our heart that the story can either be a major success or a major disappointment because they don't live up to the original tale. However, Selfors met all of my expectations and then some with her re-telling of a fairytale favorite: The Ugly Duckling.

Selfors weaved a beautiful tale about looking at what is within a person instead of what is on the outside. Filled with beautiful morals about how you should never judge a book by its cover, this book re-writes an adored fairytale while combining it with serious themes such as racism, poverty, greed, forgiveness, honesty, and the desire to good in the face of evil. In all honesty, it was very hard to not fall in love with every and all aspects of this novel. And while I already knew how it would end based on my love of the original tale as a child, Selfors skillfully wrote plot twist after plot twist to keep me guessing as I continued my journey alongside Emmeline.

Emmeline is now one of my favorite characters of all-time. She was judged by all due to her disfigured foot. She did not have enough room when in the womb, so her right foot was curled. When she walks, she has to painfully put weight on the edge of her foot instead of the bottom and hobble along clearly with a limp. Believed to be a bad omen, she accepted her fate as an unwanted and did her best to block out the taunting and superstition surrounding her and focus on her life and her beloved cows that always watched over her. When she met Owen and allowed herself to realize that she is allowed to be desired just as she is able to desire others, I felt nothing but immense joy for such a kindhearted soul. And when it came time to realize that her gift was rare and unique, she wasted  no time in deciding that it was time for her to risk her own freedom for the release and freedom of her fellow dirt-scratchers, despite the fact that her fellow dirt-scratchers did nothing but look down on her throughout her entire life. In other words, the world would be a better place if we had more Emmeline's in it.

The romantic entanglements in this book were amazing as well. Owen risked his life and went on a journey of discovery to save the girl that he loved, despite her lower status. The fact that many wished to marry Emmeline for her gift was interesting as well. And to make it even more interesting, the mere fact that others claimed to have a right to her because she would be the richest woman in the land was even more surprising. People's true colors come out in times of greed, but Emmeline was able to see through it all and know true love when she saw it. With the help of the rebellious Prince, she was able to realize that despite her mangled foot, she was capable of being loved and deserved to be loved just like everyone else.

This book is a must read for anyone of any age. Beautifully written with amazing detail, this book will take you back to your childhood while telling you a sweet tale of first love and the discovery of self-worth. This gem among young adult literary re-tellings will easily captivate you under the world's most sweetest spell.

5 stars



  1. I've never heard of this one so I'm so glad you reviewed it! It sounds really great and I might not have come across it otherwise. Another one for my TBR list. Thanks, Lili! :)

  2. Have not heard of this one myself, I am glad you enjoyed it :) I like the premise.

  3. I love fairytales and I haven't heard of this one yet but she can make chocolate!? Sounds interesting!
    Glad you liked this one :)

  4. This sounds great! And if she tops your fav characters, I'll definitely need to get my hands on this one. The plot kind of reminds me of old school fantasies like Ella Enchanting :)

    1. It's really amazing, I highly recommend it, Becca!