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 Sweetest Spell is a fairy tale story to its core, vacillating between the utter hopelessness of depression and the bright eyed wonder of youth and happiness. It begins with Emmeline’s recounting of how she is an unwanted. Left to die of exposure after being born with a curled foot, Emmeline survived only because she was guarded by some local cows. Thereafter, cows show affection for the girl who none of her people want around. When events turn and it is discovered that Emmeline possesses the power to make chocolate, an ability that has not existed for generations, Emmeline finds herself the most sought after woman in the country.
Emmeline is a charming and likable character with the sense of humor that develops in those who are largely scorned by society but remain good at heart. Her willingness to love and resilient hope counteract the downfall of events that becomes more and more depressing until you question whether there is any power that can lift this story out of it. Emmeline shares her story with a young man, Owen Oaks, son of a dairy farmer and champion bare fist fighter who finds himself an unlikely protector.
Both our hero and heroine were easy to like and root for, and though half the story is narrated through Owen’s perspective, this is unarguably Emmeline’s tale. Through Emmeline we see the transformation of one who is cast aside as nothing into that which is most desired. I loved that while The Sweetest Spell was a rags to riches story, Emmeline did not fall victim to the sort of character changes we often see in such tales. Emmeline retains her heart, knows when to say no, and what the best riches in life truly are.
It was a story with unexpected depths, charm, and managed to take the skeletal message and story of The Ugly Duckling and transform it into something wholly original. There was chocolate, romance, an evil queen, hot air balloons and lots of red heads. Readers will find this book very sweet indeed.