Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Friday, April 6, 2012
Author: Sarah Cross
Genre: mythic fiction and fairy tale retellings, young-adult
Series: Untitled #1
Pages: 336 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: April 10, 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5

True love’s kiss just may prove deadly….

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.

This is one of those surprising books that went above and beyond my expectations; in fact, I passed this over a couple times on NetGalley because it seemed so been there, done that at first glance and I've been trying to control the amount of requests I make there. Then, pretty much the next week reviews on GoodReads started popping up - 4 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars - and who am I to fight the tide? I learned my lesson around December when the same sort of thing started happening with another book that I initially dismissed and which ended up becoming immensely popular (coughAngelfallcough). So with this I didn't hesitate; the day of reading those reviews, I downloaded and began my journey to Beau Rivage, Sarah Cross's imagination and quite possibly some of my favorite fairy tale retellings ever in Kill Me Softly.

To put it the most succinctly, Kill Me Softly is charming, clever and just plain fun. There's a lot to enjoy from this book - a fairly feisty heroine, a unique angle on fairytales in a modern-day scenario, and the clever allusions and asides to popular tales we know and love. I have to admit, the darker and more unsettling this novel became, the more and more I loved it. Kill Me Softly is most definitely at its best when it takes an unexpected, usually foreboding, turn, or reveals a truth very cleverly hidden behind the author's sleight of hand. Sarah Cross is quite adept, more than adept really, at setting the perfect scene and atmosphere for her cursed characters to populate and on occasion, I was really struck by the imagery in her words. I don't want to get spoilery since there's secrets and curses and mysteries aplenty to uncover and figure out, so I will just say that Sarah Cross finds a way to make both a love triangle between brothers and extreme instalove palatable.

Another aspect of this that I greatly appreciated was the author's tendency to show her fairy-tale world within a world and its rules, and instead let them evolve naturally rather than line them all out in an introductory info-dump. Sure, for a while the curses and Blue don't make a lot of sense, but given time and attention, the details emerge. Kill Me Softly is a very readable and quickly engrossing book - the kind you pick up for a chapter and somehow emerge 97 pages and several very interesting plot-twists later. There are double meanings and hints staring out at you from the page that slowly click and make a bigger picture - several times I wanted to hit my forehead and say "duh! Of course..." The author excels at providing the reader with clues and hints but not spelling out the answers desired. I won't go so far to say Kill Me Softy is perfect, but it is damn near close, and only a few slight quibbles keep it from making it to my best-of-2012 shelves. 

I found the final (? temporary?) conflict with the main antagonist left me feeling rather underwhelmed. It takes Mira so long to clue in and then it's kind of... over in a flash and without much depth. There are sequels/companion novels confirmed to be written so I am sure the villain will reappear along the line but I wish the entire plotline of Kill Me Softly had been resolved in one novel. I vehemently support the idea of a sequel for another character from the fascinating world of Beau Rivage; I wouldn't be nearly as enthused for a return to Mira's plotline from the first/launching point of the series.


  1. I've heard so much about this book! I'll end up reading it, no doubt. :)

    1. It's very good - super entertaining with a nice twist. Plus, fairytale retellings are just fun, right? It's up on NetGalley if you use that :)


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