Emmeline Thistle should have died the day she was born – rejected because of a deformed foot. Emmeline Thistle should have died the day her village was destroyed by a flood.  But Emmeline, although only a dirt-scratcher’s daughter, knows that her life is worth saving. Striving to survive on her own, Emmeline discovers she has a rare and fabulous talent – she can churn cream into chocolate, a treat that is more valuable than gold. Suddenly Emmeline is in great demand as everyone seeks to use her talent for their own gain. All Emmeline wants is to find someone who loves her for herself  – and if it happens to be Owen Oak, the dairyman’s son, all the better!

Sissy: Every once in a while, Bubby goes into stealth book search mode, comes home from whatever store she has searched with a pile of books, reads them, then blessedly appears on my doorstep and hands me the best of them. These are good days. A couple of weeks ago The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors was in the blessed pile that Bubby gave me. It was a perfectly lovely confection of a tale. And I put it on my own pile of books to give to my 21-year-old daughter to read.

Bubby: I want it back, by the way. It just goes to show that great books can be found in the least likely of places – I believe this particular shopping trip took place at the Smith’s Marketplace a few blocks from my house. I never know what I’ll get with these books – this time I found a treasure!

Sissy: Bubby truly has a magical good-books-sniffing-out talent. I liked this book because it follows the tried and true themes of good vs. evil, underdog comes out on top, acceptance of people with clubfoots, and of course, magic and romance. It also has a happy ending (which is mandatory because we are not Oprah’s Book Club).

Bubby: And it has chocolate! Lots of chocolate! Buckets of it! I was thrilled to find a culture where chocolate is quite literally more valuable than gold. I am sure that if I were to live in this lovely mythical kingdom that I, too, would possess the talent of churning cream into chocolate. Or else I’d have to be a bank robber (just so I could afford my daily chocolate fix). Poor Emmeline has the deck stacked against her from the beginning – she is born with a deformity, her mom dies soon thereafter, her dad has “relationship issues” and she is a Kell – the people who are the lowest of the low. And things just go downhill from there.

Sissy: Bubby thinks she is writing a novel.

Bubby: Bubby actually thinks she is commenting on a novel, thank you very much.

Sissy: It is interesting how The Sweetest Spell treats the issue of prejudice, and prejudice within prejudice. The dirt-scratchers of the flatlands are ostracized from the rest of the kingdom. But they themselves ostracize Emmeline because she has a clubfoot. It makes one think about how ridiculous we are for treating people badly because they are different from us.

Bubby: Wait. You just barely said you WEREN’T Oprah’s Book Club. And now you’re philosophising!

Sissy: Bubby ostracizes me because I am brilliant. And beautiful. And I COULD be Oprah’s Book Club if I wanted. But if you’d let me finish, I would tell you that this book also has lots of witty banter and cultural humor which gives it a lightness not found in tomes that give me a headache.

Bubby: O.K. I think I will save my readers the argument that could possibly ensue here and just move on.

Sissy: What, no snarky comment about my headaches?

Bubby: Nope. No snarky comment about how you ARE my headache, either. I am moving on. Yep. Here we go. Emmeline is rescued after the flood by a lovely family which is quite the opposite of her own family – they are loving, warm and wealthy and well-fed. And then there’s Owen Oak – the son of said family. But I won’t say anymore about him right now – no spoilers! Suffice it to say that all turns out well and everyone gets chocolate. Well, not everyone.

Sissy: This is a sweet chocolatey read and I give it 3 1/2 bubbles.

Bubby: A lovely treat. 3 1/2 bubbles from me too.
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