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Monday, July 20, 2020

Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron @bloomsburykids @netgalley

Cinderella is Dead 
by Kalynn Bayron

Thank you Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for this copy.

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publish Date: July 7, 2020
Kindle Edition
400 Pages
Genres: Retelling, Fantasy, YA, Queer, Fairy Tale

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.

My Review:

Retellings are always a hit or miss for me but I can't help but read them because... well, fairy tales... and who doesn't love a darker version? Definitely not this reader.  Here we get a world where men rule maniacally and women must comply.  At a certain age, girls must attend a ball in Cinderella's honor in hopes of being chosen.  And if they're not, they're forfeited... and can also be forfeited for any other reason if they go against the rules.

"People who don't fit nicely into the boxes the kinds of Mersailles have defined are simply erased, as if our lives don't matter."

There are so many things I love about this book.  We get a queer Black girl as the lead who discovers she'd rather have the princess rather than the prince.  And we get to see her fight against the patriarchy of Charming's legacy that is oppressive.  We see a completely different view of Cinderella and her story.  (And yes for some humor.... pockets, we do love them!)  My absolute favorite part was the reimagining of the fairy godmother, Amina, and the important lessons strewn into the storyline.

However, there were things that also just didn't work for me here.  I just couldn't with the instalove - especially in the whiplash way it was presented.  Also, I would've loved to see a bit more depth in general with the characters and a bit more world building.  To see Sophia's disenchantment as she grew would've really brought her character a little more to life.  But I will state that while this is pretty predictable, there was one part that did surprise me and I absolutely loved it!

The author touches on homophobia, domestic abuse and rampant misogyny (to name a few). And I was here for all of this and truly was enthralled with the storyline.  Much respect to the author for this unique take and portraying more of what we need in books these days.


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