Review: Kill Me Softly, by Sarah Cross

Kill Me Softly, by Sarah Cross
Kill Me Softly, by Sarah Cross

Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in mystery, from the cause of her parents’ mysterious deaths to her guardians’ evasive half-truths about her birthplace, Beau Rivage. But as Mira’s sixteenth birthday approaches, she hatches a desperate plan to run away to Beau Rivage and discover the truth for herself. But Beau Rivage is more than Mira bargained for: a disturbing town where nothing is what it seems and every resident harbors dark, impossible secrets.

There’s casino manager Felix, whose alluring blue eyes and suave demeanor instantly draw Mira in, but why does Felix’s rude brother Blue seem so insistent that Mira stay far away from his family? Why is pale, dark-haired Viv so obsessed with apples and glass coffins? Why are birds and woodland animals strangely attracted to handsome, chivalrous Freddie? Is it possible that in Beau Rivage, fairy tales come true in the most twisted, grotesque way possible? And if Mira was born here, does that mean she is cursed to live out her own Grimm tale? Will she find a way to outwit fate before she loses her heart, or worse, her life?

I picked this book up at the library on a whim. To be honest, the cover gave me pause: the graphics seemed vaguely Twilight-esque, but I didn’t have anything else to read so I decided to give it a whirl. And let me tell you, I’m thrilled that I didn’t judge this book by its cover.

I surprised myself by loving this novel. From the first chapter, I was hooked. I actually stayed up half the night finishing the book, and I don’t regret it. (Not that I ever regret sleep lost over a good book, mind you). Kill Me Softly is a dark, clever, sexy story; a twisted fairy tale that embraces the grotesque aspects of Grimm tales and then goes deeper and darker. Cross asks her readers, What if fairy tale characters aren’t guaranteed their happy endings? Because in Beau Rivage, true love doesn’t always win and the only thing more dangerous than an evil fairy’s curse is trying to outrun your destiny.

Cross does a great job of creating a coherent mythology solidly rooted in both traditionally macabre Grimm folklore and modern Americana. In a genre already flooded by twisted fairy tales like ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time,’ NBC’s ‘Grimm,’ and Alex Flinn’s Beastly, Kill Me Softly is fresh, original and compelling. Cross manages to make her world be both deadly and whimsical, sinister and hopeful; a place where a curse might end in true love and a blessing might spell tragedy. Either way, fate is inexorable.

The fairy tale characters in the novel are brilliantly irreverent. Each character balks the traditional assumptions of their archetype while remaining true to the overall ethos of the fairy tale. For instance, the character destined to play out the Snow White narrative jokes that she’s tempted to choke herself on an apple “just to get things rolling.” Freddie–“Prince Charming”– is kind and generous to the point of intolerability–the “princess” he is destined to wake from an enchanted slumber with true love’s kiss can’t stand being around him for longer than 5 minutes.

For anyone who enjoys a twisted fairytale with a healthy dose of snappy dialogue, steamy makeouts, and complicated characters, this book is a must-read. Mira’s quest for answers about her past sends her into a beautiful but deadly world of lies, intrigue, and maybe–just maybe–true love.

Leave a Reply