Monday, 15 February 2016
#CBR8 Book 12: "Kill Me Softly" by Sarah Cross
Rating: 3 stars
Mirabelle has been raised by her extremely overprotective guardians, knowing that her parents died in a fire on the night of her christening. She desperately wants answers about her parents and her background, but her two guardians are none too forthcoming, and so Mira feels she has no choice but to run away. To make sure that the women who raised her don't immediately track her to Beau Rivage, the place where she was born, she spends the six months before her 16th birthday creating a fictional boyfriend with whom she's been corresponding, so they'll believe she's run away with him.
She seems clever, does Mira, until she arrives in Beau Rivage and loses all critical faculites upon meeting handsome Felix Valentine, who runs a hotel and offers to let her stay there free of charge, out of the goodness of his apparent heart. Of course, his younger brother Blue does whatever he can to get Mira out of the family hotel, warning her away from Felix and offering to pay for her to stay pretty much anywhere else. While Mira finds the younger Valentine brother obnoxious and rude, her infatuation with his older brother is pretty much instantaneous. When Felix isn't around, she questions her strong feelings, but the minute he shows up again, she forgets anything but how handsome and charming he is. Of course, Mira doesn't have much of a plan, she just wants to search cemeteries until she can find where her parents were buried. Felix offers to help her, Blue keeps trying to get her to leave the hotel.
Mira's guardians haven't really told her much about the place where she was born, and Mira discovers that Beau Rivage is not your average little sea side town. Blue has a very strange group of friends, all of whom keep mentioning "curses". The singer in Blue's band keeps coughing up flowers and actual gem stones, his puppy dog of a friend Freddie keeps being followed by birds and tiny woodland creatures, the girl Ivy is deathly pale, complains about her stepmother and occasionally speaks to the mirror, who speaks back. It seems a lot of fairy tales come true in sinister ways in this town, and the strange birthmark on her lower back marks Mira as another fairy cursed teenager. She's a magical sleeper, probably due to cut or prick her finger and sleep in an enchanted sleep until her prince rescues her with a kiss. Said prince seems destined to be Freddie, not that she has any time for him, what with making googly eyes at Felix and trading sarcastic, but flirty barbs with Blue. Will Blue find her parents' grave? Will she even make it to her sixteenth birthday before her curse comes true? Will she discover why Blue is so eager to get her away from Felix, and what exactly Felix is hiding in that hotel room he's asked her to stay out of?
Kill Me Softly is yet another book I bought in an e-book sale at some point, because the cover was pretty and the book was recommended on some review site or other. I do like the modern fairy tale twists, complete with some really rather dark edges, such as actual death and disfigurement being the side effect of some of the curses. I liked some of the contemporary updates to the various fairy tale figures, and the sinister atmosphere permeating Beau Rivage.
I didn't like just how incredibly naive and TSTL Mira is for a lot of the book. Yes, I get that Felix' presence actually cast an enchantement over her, but every time she's away from him she starts questioning herself, and it's one thing to believe Blue is just trying to warn her away because of some sort of twisted sibling rivalry. When pretty much every single other person she meets in Beau Rivage suggests that Felix is bad news and that she should stay away from him, perhaps she should be a bit more wary. Besides, a 21-year-old who will happily offer a 15-year-old free accommodation, seemingly no strings attached, that should set off "stranger danger" alarm bells, little girl. What you absolutely don't want to do is suggest that you move into his private suite instead - that's just asking to be sexually propositioned. Have some self respect.
Because Mira was quite so unbelievably bad at taking care of herself, the things that were actually enjoyable got overshadowed. I don't think I was surprised by a single one of the plot developments either, and not just because I've read more than my fair share of fairy tales over the years. I suspect most people could see the big plot beats a mile away. I can see on Goodreads that there is a companion novel to this one, dealing with Snow White Ivy and the gardener who's doomed to cut out her heart when her step-mother finally snaps, but I'm not interested enough to seek it out. There is a lot of potential here, but it sadly doesn't play out.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.