{Review + Giveaway} KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross

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Note: KILL ME SOFTLY is a favorite fairy tale-influenced novel of mine. When Sarah McGuire mentioned it in today's awesome guest post, I was excited to dig out my old review from 2012, brush off the dust, and introduce it to a new fairy tale loving audience!

I know you're about to see the following cover and ask yourself, "Wait a minute, am I on the blog I think I'm on?" right now.  Trust me, I still am, too. As you may or may not know, I'm super-squeamish, so this bloody cover and title about "killing" is not something I'd ever consider picking up.  But then...I found out that KILL ME SOFTLY is about fairy tales.  And that it's supposed to be amazing.  And I didn't care how gross the cover was: I wanted this book.  And look at the opening passage:

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

BIRTHDAYS WERE WRETCHED, delicious things when you lived in Beau Rivage. The clock struck midnight, and presents gave way to magic.

Curses bloomed. 

Girls bit into sharp apples instead of birthday cake, choked on the ruby-and-white slivers, and collapsed into enchanted sleep.  Unconscious beneath cobweb canopies, frozen in coffins of glass, they waited for their princes to come.  Or they tricked ogres, traded their voices for love, danced until their glass slippers cracked.  

A prince would awaken, roused by the promise of true love, and find he had a witch to destroy.  A heart to steal.  To tear from the rib cage, where it was cushioned by bloody velvet, and deliver it to the queen who demanded the princess's death. 

Girls became victims and heroines.  

Boys became lovers and murderers.  

And sometimes . . . they became both. 

(Page 7, US e-book edition)

It's gorgeous, isn't it?  Is it possible to read that hook and NOT want to read this book?

I love fractured fairy tales, even more so when they're based on the darker Grimms Brothers tales.  Sarah Cross has created a world that I'm having trouble describing to you.  As the book begins to unfurl, it feels completely magical, especially the above opening passage.  As the story begins main character Mirabelle's godmothers are arguing about whether her sixteenth birthday cake should have blue or pink frosting, an homage to Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY.  As more pages are turned, the book becomes more contemporary, mentioning L.A., casinos, etc.  But even when Mirabelle runs away from home and finds herself in a contemporary world, there's still a fantastic spin, such as the Gingerbread House (the visuals describing this cafĂ© are just decadent), Cinderella's Secret (because why should Victoria have all the fun?), and Twelve (a jazz club named for the twelve dancing princesses).  This mix of realism and fantasy was blended together in such a fashion that it was hard to see where one ended and the other began.

The story begins when Mirabelle runs away from home to return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage, hoping to discover more about her deceased parents.  She finds herself in a world where nothing is as it seems.  Curses abound, both good and bad.  Fairy tale characters are real, and the characters destined to play them out are branded with birthmarks stating which tale they're from, whether they're villains, supporting characters, or heroes/heroines.  Wicked stepsisters limp around with missing foot appendages, birds flock around favored players and peck out the eyes of more villainous ones, and no one has as much control of his/her destiny as you might think.  Mirabelle discovers that she's been cursed to become a Sleeping Beauty.  Her new friends range from the princess in Snow White (who has an on-again/off-again relationship with the guy who will become her hunter), both Beauty and her Beast, the "prince" destined to wake her up (Sadly, she doesn't feel more than friendship from him), and the mysterious Blue, whose role is shrouded in intrigue through much of KILL ME SOFTLY.  Avid fairy tale readers may or may not guess his tale beforehand; I did, but it never detracted from reading, and I was eager to see the way Sarah Cross wove everything together.

The writing style is gorgeous, and I fell in love with Beau Rivage, never wanting to leave and return to real life.  And Blue!  Oh my goodness, Blue.  I seriously love this character.  His development is phenomenal, especially as he opens up and interacts more with Mira.  Cross is talented at character development, and even ones with minor roles come to life and ensnare readers.  I would love to see her return to Beau Rivage in the future with more books set in this delightful world.  I was really excited to see that Cross has another published novel, DULL BOY, which I'm going to try to get my hands on next!  Super heroes and fairy tales?  Sarah Cross, you already own a little piece of my soul!

~I've also reviewed the second novel set in Beau Rivage, TEAR YOU APART. (You can read these out of order! There will be spoilers in TEAR YOU APART about a secret that makes KMS more mysterious because there are appearances from multiple characters, but TEAR YOU APART stands completely on its own. There aren't any spoilers in my review, so feel free to keep reading!)

~I've also reviewed the FREE online novella about Beau Rivage, AFTER THE BALL. The main characters from this one made a fun cameo!

~Finally, I reviewed brand-new novella TWIN ROSES and shared the FINAL part of an EXCLUSIVE online tale from Beau Rivage, "Three Nights, Twelve Princesses, One Curse!" 

~Author Sarah Cross has also created some fun guest posts for Fairy Tale Fortnight and Splash into Summer that you can read now: The Fairy Tale Princess You Don't Want to BeWhite as Snow, Red as Blood, Perfect for a Retelling (This one is about TEAR YOU APART!), Edible Mermaids: Ningyo and Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I dislike this cover.  And title.  A lot.  What you may not know about me?  I'm realllllly squeamish.  If I ever saw this title / cover before this past month, I never looked twice at it.

I didn't know the book existed until someone had it on their Best So-Far of 2012 for Armchair BEA.  When I saw the reasons for why the book was good and that it was based on the Grimm's fairy tales, I rushed to Goodreads to find out more and was shocked by the book's appearance.

After reading KILL ME SOFTLY, the cover does make a bit of sense, but I HATE looking at it and can't properly comment on this one.  I'm so glad I read it in black and white on my nook instead of a physical copy!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Sarah Cross
Release Date: Out now [April 10, 2012]
Publisher: Egmont
Received: Purchased


"Incorporating suspense and romance, this contemporary, edgy, Grimm-based novel is an entertaining and well-written entry in the crowded but popular genre."—Booklist

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.


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