Book Review: Kill Me Softly
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.
As you may already know, I am a huge fan of fairy tale re-tellings. In some cases I find hits, and in other cases I find misses. KILL ME SOFTLY fell somewhere in between for me.
While the premises of Kill Me Softly is a good one, and at times the author is creative in its execution, I found some of the plot to be largely derivative. Not overtly so, but while reading I felt myself wanting something more unique out of the story line and the characters… In Kill Me Softly a young 15 year old orphan girl has some unanswered questions about her parents. She leaves her two godmothers to revisit the place where she was born, Beau Rivage. There, she hopes to find out more about her birth parents. Once in Beau Rivage she meets a strange pair of brothers who run the local casino. She meets even more odd and (mostly) unhappy kids. Eventually, she finds out they are all connected by a terrible “curse” that forces them to play out the stories of fairy tale characters. At the same time she finds herself falling in love…
In this tale fairy godmothers and magic are real, but the stories are based on the dark side of Grimm where the stakes usually involve either a life beyond control or even death. Think Once Upon a Time meets Grimm, involving some really messed up teenagers, and you have yourself Kill Me Softly.
Even though I liked the character’s connections to stories such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, I still had a hard time relating with any of them. Mira seemed too immature and self-obsessed for me to easily like her as a protagonist. Her actions were off the charts at times -perhaps even shallow- and I disliked the insta-love she fell into, even if it was for a reason that was explained within the book. The two brothers, Blue and Felix are also an enigma. I wanted to feel bad for one of them. Yet, I didn’t particularly like either them for spoilerific reasons that I will not reveal. And as for a 15 year old thinking about sleeping with a 21 year old (casino owner??) she hardly even knows, and she doesn’t even fully trust… Don’t make me go there.
As for the other characters; again, while I loved their fairy tale connections, they each had personalities that I just didn’t relate to. It made them kinda hard to like. And, sadly, while their stories are often talked about, none of them really come into play within these pages… It was a bit of a let-down.
Casino aside (I felt that including a casino was just a bit silly), the town of Beau Rivage was probably one of the most interesting parts of the book. I loved that Mira spent a good bit of time walking about the town and observing the oddities she found there. This provided a fun opportunity for the author to throw in some fairy tale references that I enjoyed. This is what I meant by the “creative execution” in my first paragraph above.
It doesn’t take long for us to follow Mira to Beau Rivage, and it’s only a short time after her arrival that we discover the truth about the residents. But then, after the truth is revealed, it felt to me like a reeeally long ride to reach the end. Much of the book is spent dealing with Mira’s angst over falling in love with one brother and butting heads with the other. Oftentimes she seems to forget entirely why she is in Beau Rivage in the first place. Sure we meet some fairly odd characters along the way, but other than a few kissing scenes that (literally) sweep Mira off her feet, not much happens until the very end. I guess I wanted something more sweeping than a few kisses. At the conclusion, the resolution felt too rushed and semi-forced. I saw it coming for miles, why didn’t anyone else in the story?
Sarah’s knowledge of the “dark side” of the fairy tales is apparent (I mean, how many of you remember that Cinderella’s evil stepsisters were so desperate to marry the prince that they actually cut off body parts to make the glass slipper fit, hmm?) We really do need more dark fairy-tale re-tellings in modern fiction…
Also, since I felt that there were way too many loose ends at the conclusion of Kill Me Softly, I would certainly hope for a sequel. I hear that the author will be providing a companion novel (about the character, Viv) in the future and she also would like to write a sequel, but whether or not that will happen is still up in the air. If it does happen, I hope that Sarah will see this as an opportunity to flesh out the characters even more and continue their tales… On a side note: There is some mild foul language, sexuality, etc. The book is ages 14 and up. But some the underage teen getting cozy with an older man situation makes me a bit uncomfortable.
While this may not have been my favorite fairy tale retelling, I do believe that many people will find it an enjoyable read. The story isn’t necessarily for fans of fairy tale re-tellings. Fans of paranormal elements would likely find something to like about this book. So, again, while not my favorite read, I would still seek out the sequel if there ever is one.
Posted on May 8, 2012, in Book Review, Three & 1/2 Star and tagged Book, Book Review, Egmont USA, Fairy Tale, Kill Me Softly, Romance, Sarah Cross, YA, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.