Author: Sarah Cross
Genre: Fantasy YA, Fairy Tale Retelling
Release date: April 10, 2012
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Summary: Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.
In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.
But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own… brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.
Fairy tale retellings are some of my very favorite stories to read, friends. No question. I love the timelessness of them. One of my new favorite TV shows is Once Upon a Time for basically that reason. So when I heard that KILL ME SOFTLY, the debut from Sarah Cross, was pretty much a retelling of a bunch of well-known fairy tales, I was PSYCHED. Perhaps I should have taken a bigger hint from the “kill” in the title, though, or the BLOOD on the cover, because KILL ME SOFTLY is not frilly or sweet or heartwarming. No, this is Grimm business here, and I both loved it and just liked it simultaneously. Allow me to explain.
I LOVED the fairy tale world in KILL ME SOFTLY. Sarah Cross took classic tales–Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty–and basically turned them on their heads: a Belle who finds the idea of reforming her Beast an unwelcome burden because she kind of hates his guts. A Sleeping Beauty and her prince who kind of only feel like friends. A Snow White who is bratty and emo who hooks up with the Huntsman with NO care or regard for his feelings. And what makes this even MORE awesome? The people in Beau Rivage know that they are physical incarnations of fairy tale characters, and that the outcomes of the stories are the fates for which they are destined in life. It’s a pretty BOSS twist that I thought was executed well here. Loved this part BIG TIME, and for this reason alone would read ALL THE BOOKS–if there are any more–about the other characters.
But I have to say that Mira, the main character, was a pickle for me. (Apologies in advance for getting a little venty right here.) I appreciated her dilemma in KILL ME SOFTLY, and I felt for her and her wanting to know the truth about her life and her parents. And I LOVED her attitude and her spunk and her unwillingness to be pushed around….EXCEPT BY FELIX, insta-love perpetrator and bad-sekret keeper. (Quick 411: Felix and his brother, Blue, don’t get along, but both get involved with Mira in different ways. Their tale is a secret for most of the book, and turns out to be pretty fraking awful. Of course, Mira gets caught up in it and winds up in danger. Now, back to the main action.) Mira was, frankly, dumb when it came to Felix. I can understand the instant attraction. I can understand TOTALLY her frustration with Blue telling her to stay away from him because she doesn’t want people telling her what to do, and because she doesn’t believe his motives for butting in. *I* always got that sneaky, snake in the weeds vibe from Felix, even though he was perfectly swoonworthy, but whatevs.
BUT, guys, it wasn’t just Blue warning Mira against Felix. EVERYONE else was telling her that he was bad news, and in what I thought were pretty friendly, thoughtful, genuinely concerned ways. Mira dismissed them all, angrily and outright, and I wanted to be like, “Seriously? You’re not going to even THINK about considering ALL of these warnings from people who have proven to be good friends to you? Not at all?” I wish she had been just a touch more open to their warnings, even if I could understand why she would be eager to do exactly the opposite. She gets pissed at people “slandering” Felix by telling her he is dangerous for her. But is it slander when what they tell you is the truth and you just choose not to listen out of stubbornness? UGH, GIRL. Mira’s constantly snapping at people who are telling her things she doesn’t want to hear. Characters like that always bother me. The ones who you can tell are smarter than the way they act. So, you know, whew! MIXED FEELINGS all up in hurrr.
Also, THE ENDING. The ending of KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross leaves LOTS of open threads. Like, HUGE ones that actually bothered me. I can appreciate an open ending, guys. But this is almost like parts of the endings were left out, or like things were deliberately left hanging as a means of continuing the story. But if that’s the case, then I think the ending felt a little too deliberate, especially when I think the other books would focus on different characters, so I don’t know what opportunities would pop up to resolve these threads. ALAS. BUT! I’m not in charge of these books, so Sarah Cross could have something MAJORLY AWESOME up her sleeve. In fact, I would bet on it. Because aside from my weirdness with Mira and the ending, KILL ME SOFTLY was GREAT. I’m ready to read more from Sarah Cross RIGHT NOW!