Annotation: After fifteen-year-old Mirabelle Lively runs away from the home she shares with her two godmothers, she finds herself in Beau Rivage, the town where she was born and where her parents died in a fire at her christening party years earlier. Mira doesn’t know what she will find in the strange town, only that she’s hoping to locate her parents’ graves. Instead, she learns that in Beau Rivage, fairy tales are a reality, and that her’s began the night her parents were killed.
Personal thoughts: I love twists on classic tales, so Kill Me Softly was the perfect book to delight me! I really liked the author’s writing style, I loved how the story had elements of sweetness but also serious creepy undertones as well, and I enjoyed the plot quite a bit. My only small (kind-of) complaint was that I found the sexual relationship between Mira, who is fifteen, and Felix, who is twenty-one, to be strangely accepted by the other characters in the story (save for one mention of her being underage by the guy described as a “beast” throughout the novel.) Are there no police in Beau Rivage who wonder why a fifteen-year-old is buying slinky nightgowns to attract her pedophile boyfriend? I wish this aspect of the story had been either avoided by making the characters different ages, or explained a little bit better. Other than that, however, I really did enjoy the novel and would easily recommend it to older teen readers (and adults!) who want something original and fun!
Plot summary: All of her life, Mirabella “Mira” Lively was told by her two godmothers, Elsa and Bliss, that her parents died when she was a baby. Now Mira is fifteen, and the story of her mom and dad perishing in a terrible fire at her christening party isn’t adding up. Elsa and Bliss have forbidden Mira from ever returning to Beau Rivage, the town where she was born and where her parents were killed, but Mira is determined to learn the truth. Mira runs away from home and finds herself in Beau Rivage without any money or anywhere to stay. Chance brings her to The Dream, one of Beau Rivage’s many elegant casinos, where she meets the handsome Felix Valentine and his younger brother, Blue. Blue quickly warns Mira that Felix is dangerous and that she should stay away from him, but Mira is enchanted by Felix’s kindness and the mutual attraction between them, so when he offers her a room at the Dream while she searches for her parents’ graves, she jumps at the opportunity to spend more time with him. As Mira gets to know Beau Rivage, she quickly learns that there is something very strange about the town. It seems that in Beau Rivage, fairy tales are a reality, and most of the inhabitants have been cursed to live out the fates of their literary ancestors. Mira has always wondered what the strange wheel shaped birthmark on her back means, and begins to suspect that she, like the rest of Beau Rivage, has a curse of her own. But what does her fate have to do with her blossoming relationship with the seductive Felix, and why does Blue, and everyone else in town, keep insisting she is in danger?
Review: Set in the beautifully creepy town of Beau Rivage, where living a fairy tale isn’t necessarily a good thing, Kill Me Softly, the latest novel from author Sarah Cross, offers a new take on the classic “stories” we thought we all knew. As many readers who pick up Kill Me Softly might already know (or will soon find out), the original versions of most of the well-known fairy tales tend to be quite grim. From Cinderella’s stepsisters slicing off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper, to the little mermaid suffering agonizing torture from splitting her tail into legs to be with her prince, there is usually very little that can be identified as “Disney” in these tales. What is, in a morbid way, so enjoyable about Kill Me Softly, is that the town of Beau Rivage operates on the gruesome versions of the fairy tales. After Mira arrives in town, she soon spots a set of sisters walking around with bandaged feet, one of her new friends is constantly coughing up flower petals and jewels, and the guy she finds herself falling in love with seems to have a very dark and deadly secret of his own. Readers will find much to relish in this book, from identifying the incarnations of their favorite fairy tales, to Mira’s quest to find out the truth about her parents. Be advised, however, that while this book is based on tales for children, it is suitable for the older teen audience, as there is a fair amount of cursing and sexual situations (particularly the romance between twenty-one-year-old Felix Valentine and the very underage fifteen-year-old Mira.) For adventurous readers, however, Kill Me Softly is an entertaining read that is sure to satisfy in many ways. A companion novel set in Beau Rivage is set to be released in the near future.
Reading level: Grade 9+
Similar titles: Sweetly and Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore, Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay, Snow in Summer: Fairest of Them All by Jane Yolen.
Themes: Fairy tales, romance, danger, orphans, death, murder, secrets.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from Booklist and Kirkus.
Series Information: First novel in Beau Rivage series. Companion novel set to be released in 2013.
Discussion questions:- Do you think Mira running away to Beau Rivage was the right thing for her to do? Why or why not?
- What do you think Blue meant when he told Mira that Felix “loves orphans?”
- Do you think Felix truly loved Mira? Blue? Freddie?
- Who was your favorite character in the novel? Why?
- If you could choose your Beau Rivage “curse,” what would you pick? Why?
- Sarah Cross has said that she’s writing a companion novel to Kill Me Softly that will contain Viv’s story. What do you think this book will be about? Do you plan to read it? What other characters from Kill Me Softly would like to know more about?