I am a sucker for a book based on a fairy-tale. I can’t even say how many times I have read a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella. Something I had never read though, was a modern story based on Hansel and Gretel, so when this one landed in my inbox it was met with high excitement.
In this modern retelling of “Hansel and Gretel,” 13-year-old foster children, Holden and Griselda, escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety but the other is left behind.
Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match where her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.
Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage and a cache of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the whitewater of the Shenandoah.
Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people – once profoundly broken – who discover that love is the onlything that can make them whole again.
This is a standalone novel inspired by Hansel & Gretel. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to profanity, scenes of physical abuse and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18. (Note: children are not sexually abused in this book.)
The story is told in the present day with flashbacks to the past. Admittedly I found the flashbacks a little confusing at first because they weren’t in chronological order. Once you get your head around this though, the flashbacks provide vital backstory for each of the characters and we come to discover how they have ended up where they are and the sequence of events that lead to the most pivotal moments in their lives.
No beating around the bush – the first half of this book is about as haunting and creepy as you would imagine a Hansel and Gretel retelling to be. The author manages to successfully create a vivid world that has you simultaneously wanting to read more more more, and wanting to hide under your duvet. It’s dark and disturbing but also incredibly captivating. Each character has both strengths and flaws that play a large part in this story. Sometimes the lines between their strengths and weaknesses are blurred to the point where you can’t tell if they are the nicest people in the world or the biggest idiots that ever existed.
The second half of the story is very ‘relationship based’ but both main characters go through a huge amount of personal growth as well, which really keeps the momentum of the story going. Never Let You Go is low on angst but still high in drama and has plenty going on to keep the reader interested.
The resolution of this story was a little different from the norm. Don’t worry romance lovers – it still has an awesome HEA, but there was one part in particular that really surprised me. I was very happy with how it ended though and felt it was completely in line with the characters’ personality.
I can’t wait to read more from Katy Regnery! I’m especially excited about the retelling of The Little Mermaid. Ariel is my ride or die. Bring it on!
**ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for a review. Thank you so much!