Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart, by Sarah Cross

I'm picky about retold fairytales. I get mega-irritated when an author screws up a classic story—I mean, they've already had a huge chunk of the work done for them! Ensuring that their new contribution doesn't suck seems like the least they can do, right?

Sarah Cross's fairytale-inspired YA romances Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart do not meet my high standards. Cross's books borrow freely from the Grimm canon, but she ignores the first rule of fantasy writing: no matter how far-fetched, a story has to respect its own internal logic. Both stories are set in a fictional, modern-day casino town called Beau Rivage, where a large segment of the population carries a fairytale curse. (Some girls are destined to fall into an enchanted sleep, unlucky boys will be turned into beasts, etc.) Kill Me Softly is a Sleeping Beauty/Bluebeard mash-up, while Tear You Apart features elements of Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Let's start with the good stuff: Cross's novels boast effective (if twisted) romantic chemistry and an enjoyably tawdry, glittery atmosphere. Unfortunately, she constantly flip-flops between fairytale logic and real-world logic, and her writing suffers for it. If her characters were unshakably destined to live out fairytale patterns, I might forgive the 15-year-old heroine of Kill Me Softly for deciding that sharing a hotel room with the shady casino manager she just met is an A+ idea—but when Cross eventually decides that the characters have at least a little free will, the girl just seems insanely stupid. And it's even more irritating when Cross bases entire storylines on the inevitability of her characters' fairytale curses, then offhandedly announces that “no one [follows the curses] to the letter anymore.” Seriously, lady, make up your mind. And until you do, please leave these poor fairytales alone.
Posted by: Julianka


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