Book Review

Cinderella Is Dead

Cinderella is Dead

  • Author: Kalynn Bayron
  • Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling, YA
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2020
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book and the chance to review it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them. 

The cover definitely caught my attention, as did the premise. You know I’m always ready for a fresh new take on an old fairy tale, especially when it incorporates diverse characters. In this story, Sophia is queer and Black, and there are other LGBT characters featured throughout the story. The fairy tale of Cinderella has been used to create a twisted patriarchy that is not only oppressive, but dangerous to people who don’t fit into what society expects of them.

Despite the book being 400 pages, I flew through this in just a few hours. It was a fast-paced read. I liked Sophia’s character right away — she’s smart, tough, practical, and the type of girl who thinks for herself even in a society where this is unacceptable. This isn’t always a good thing, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that even the best characters have flaws. I struggle to identify with characters who are perfect.

“I picture myself being paraded through the streets in shackles, maybe even stuffed into a cage in the center of town where Lille’s people are so often made to endure public humiliation as penance for stepping off the beaten path.”

In a world where there are severe consequences for being different, Sophia isn’t willing to change who she is to fit into society’s expectations. She doesn’t understand why the system is set up the way it is, and decides that rather than changing herself to fit the mold, she’s going to break the system and free not only herself, but all the people who suffer under this tyrannical, patriarchal system. The story addresses such important issues that we face in our everyday world, such as toxic masculinity, domestic violence, patriarchy, and homophobia, but I didn’t feel like it was done in an overly heavy-handed way.

I really liked how the entire fairy tale of Cinderella was explored and reimagined from a different perspective. Each of the characters in the fairy tale was turned upside down and no one was portrayed as they were originally. I did feel like the story was a bit predictable. I guessed most of the plot twists, although there was one that got me. Even so, the story was a great one, and I’d definitely recommend it.

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