It's a rare occasion when a book comes along and sweeps me off my feet. Let me start by saying I've always loved a good fairy tale, whether it be the happy-ending Disney type or the more macabre Grimm's Tales. I'm mesmerized by fantasy worlds where things are not what they seem, curses are to be feared, and happily-ever-after is a possibility. Sarah Cross has taken the idea of a fantasy world and woven it into the fabric of our everyday world, throwing reality on its ear and leaving us with a masterpiece that earned a place among the Teen's Top Ten for 2013.

In Kill Me Softly, Mirabelle is on the verge of her 16th birthday. When Mira was a baby, her parents were killed in a fire at her christening party and she has lived in the care of two eccentric godmothers ever since. Her life is full of "don't"--from don't ride in a car without an adult to don't use a razor, to the one that bothers Mira the most, DON'T EVER go back to the town where you were born. Mira has dreamed about returning to the town of her birth and finding her parents' graves. She has imagined what life would have been like had they not died when she was a baby.

For Mira, the only way to find closure is to return to Beau Rivage. While her godmothers are planning Mira's sweet sixteen party, Mira is making plans of her own, plans about how to sneak away. What Mira doesn't know is that Beau Rivage isn't the pretty seaside town that it appears to be. Things there have a deeper, darker undertone. Have you ever heard someone say that a person was born to do something or be someone? Well, in Beau Rivage, that's certainly the case.

Mira gets tangled up with brothers Blue and Felix, who seem inexplicably drawn to her. Blue repeatedly tells Mira to leave and go home before something bad happens and Felix treats her like a princess, showering her with gifts and attention after only knowing her for a day. Mira knows in her head that this is strange, but when she looks at Felix, she swoons and thinks it must be love. After meeting Blue's ragtag group of friends and listening to them talk, she begins to realize how strange Beau Rivage and its inhabitants truly are. Mira comes to find out that each character has a fairy tale "curse," creating for them a destiny that they must fulfill. Mira realizes that she, too, has a curse and coming back to the place of her birth may be her undoing.

The city of Beau Rivage and the cast of characters Mira meets there are rich in detail and full of life. Sarah Cross does a great job of entwining magic into the everyday. Fairies, curses, love triangles, and more, she creates an intense world of twists and turns that will keep readers coming back for more. With "twisted fairy tales" currently gaining in popularity, Cross gives us so much more than your run-of-the mill fairy tale retelling. Each of the characters is complex and completed the story in such a way that I would love to read more about the supporting characters' curses and futures. I was sad to come to the end of this story and it stayed with me well after I closed the book. I can only hope that Cross gives us more tales from the town of Beau Rivage.

If you enjoy this kind of book and are looking for other modern fairy tales, check out one of these titles: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce; Cloaked by Alex Finn; Entwined by Heather Dixon; The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman; and Ash by Malinda Lo.

Recommended by Brandy Walton


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