Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Published by Bloomsbury YA on July 7, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, LGBTQ
Format: eBook (391 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
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.
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains homophobia, domestic abuse, murder, and gore.
Cinderella Is Dead is not the magical fairy tale of the original story. Set 200 years after the real Cinderella’s death, her kingdom is run by a mad king who uses Cinderella’s story as a way to control the people. Sixteen-year-old Sophia has had it though, and after escaping the ball, teams up with a descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters to stop the reign of evil kings forever.
I absolutely love the idea of Cinderella Is Dead. While I did enjoy it, it didn’t quite live up to the hype. Mostly because the world-building was lackluster. When it starts, we’re thrust into this kingdom where the story of Cinderella is essentially gospel and law, but we don’t know why. Sophia is in love with her friend Erin, but both must attend the annual ball to find husbands or disappear. The ball is the hugest event of the year and families spend most of their earnings on gowns and accessories for their daughters to ensure they find a match. But why?!
The beginning of Cinderella is Dead just kept me in a state of “why?!” After Sophia runs away, I did let that go a bit, because I figure there must be some big secret. I settled into the story and found myself really enjoying it. I absolutely loved learning the “real” Cinderella story and what actually was going on when she attended the ball and married the prince. Of course, it’s nothing like the story we know, or the one that’s required reading for every girl in Lille. It was a very interesting twist on the classic.
However, this original story still didn’t explain why the story was such a huge part of this society. There was literally no reason given. Even during the big showdown with the evil king, after all of his secrets have been exposed, there is no explanation to how the fairy tale became law. We learn why the kings have proposed certain laws, but not what they have to do with Cinderella. Or why the people have just gone along with it all of this time. No one has tried to stage a revolt? I find that hard to believe.
On that same note, the girl that Sophia meets outside the ball, Constance, has been working toward fighting against the king from the outside where her family was exiled. But I found it strange that no one before her, including herself, ever thought to look for the fairy godmother or her descendants. If the stepsisters daughters and granddaughters have been passing down their history, wouldn’t it make sense for the godmother as well? It’s not until Sophia obviously points out that “hey someone else was there the night of the ball” that Constance realizes she’s on to something. It just didn’t fit. Everything was too conveniently written to make sure that Sophia was the brains behind it all. Yes, she’s our MC, but there’s no way she was the first to do any of these things.
I know this review is making it sound like I didn’t like Cinderella Is Dead, but I did! I really did! I thought it was fun and a cool twist. But the world-building! It’s distracting. If you’re more of a plot or character reader, it might not bother you as much. I’m very much into world-building, so that’s why it nagged at me.