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.
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Price: $17.99
- Publisher: EgmontUSA (April 10, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1606843230
- ISBN-13: 978-1606843239
- Buy Kill Me Softly at Amazon
I’m going to do this review a little backward and start with some bad stuff. First off… the names. There are certain names that, like it or not, are associated with specific fairy tales (thank you, Disney) and also with the television show Once Upon a Time. When authors write fairy tales with a twist, they kind of either need to completely embrace those names or avoid them at all costs. The early pages of Kill Me Softly almost destroyed the book for me. The main character’s name is Mirabelle. She goes by Mira, but one of her Godmothers calls her Belle. I had fairy tale whiplash for a while trying to decide if she was supposed to be Sleeping Beauty or Beauty from Beauty and the Beast or some weird mashup. I managed to ignore it pretty quickly since “Mira” became the name of choice. But then we met other characters and I started obsessively doing calculations in my head as to whether the book was written/edited before or after Once Upon a Time premiered. First came Cora (not the evil step-grandmother, but it’s not a common name…) and then “Snow White’s” step-mother’s name was Regina and I found myself cringing every time her name was mentioned. Yes, it’s a little thing, but it drew me right out of the story and set me to making mental comparisons.
Fortunately, Kill Me Softly is its own animal and managed to overcome that obstacle.
World-Building: This was similar to Once Upon a Time in that there is a town in which fairy tales are real. But these aren’t exactly the story book characters ripped into our world. It’s more just that they’re here and gathered in Beau Rivage. The people in the town are, in essence, controlled by fairies both good and evil. When children are born, many are blessed or cursed by those fairies to follow in the footsteps of their fictional brethren. Those who are cursed are marked with pieces of crimson flesh in the shape of a symbol related to their curse. Everyone in the town knew who was who and accepted that their curse would eventually come to pass. It wasn’t a big deal to them at all. It was an interesting twist that really worked for me.
Characters: Mira had a little bit of back and forth about whether or not to believe in the beginning that went on for too long for my taste. It felt forced, especially when everything around her screamed that it was real. But I liked her spunk and the fact that she was willing to chase after the dream of finding her parents. I did think her total and complete falling for Felix was a bit much (especially when he was with another girl when she met him), but more on that in a bit. Felix fit the charming player to a “t.” Blue was the hardest to get a handle on, and I think that’s why he was the most interesting character for me. Unlike everyone else in town, he didn’t really embrace his curse, instead actively fighting against it. One thing with regard to characters though is that there seemed to be a lot of them–enough that I would occasionally have to stop to remember who was who.
Plot: In a lot of ways, this was a typical coming of age story. Girl whose parents died tragically when she was a child is determined to revisit her childhood home and at least find their graves, but first she has to break free from her guardians to do it. Once she arrives, she meets a rather odd bunch of characters who fill her in on both her past and her destiny. This breakdown makes the story seem really trite, but it didn’t feel that way reading it. Yes, it was a simple base, but what was built on that base made it something special. (Honestly, I don’t know how to explain it more without giving too much away.)
Romance: This part… I struggled with. It fits the plot well, but I had a hard time believing Mira could love Felix. Infatuation, sure. But everything about their meetings seemed all fluff and no substance. Her interactions with Blue, however, felt more genuine, even if they did fall into the love-hate relationship style.
At the end of the day, I love a good fairy tale twist. Was Kill Me Softly a great one? No, not for me. But it was definitely pretty good.