Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Published By: Bloomsbury
Released: 6th August 2020
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.
Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball are forfeited.
But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world.
Trigger warnings: Homophobia, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, sexism.
Fairytale retellings are something that I adore! I love seeing how authors put unique twists onto something that is beloved by people of all ages. Cinderella Is Dead was one that I just couldn’t resist picking up and even before I go into this review, I will tell you that it is a big contender for my best book of 2020.
Cinderella is Dead is set 200 years after the story of Cinderella and every girl living in the kingdom knows her story off by heart and has to recite it daily. Every year all the girls in the kingdom have to attend the royal ball to be ‘chosen’ by one man, who they will marry. For those not chosen they are forfeited. Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen. She would rather marry her best friend, Erin. On the night of the Royal Ball, Sophia makes a choice that causes her to run for her life, and into the tomb of Cinderella, there, she meets someone who will end up showing her that she does have the courage to remake this world they are living in.
Well, this book was outstanding, and I devoured every single page, and would so again in a heartbeat. As you may know I’m not a big re-reader, so for me to say this you know it’s a good one. Everything about it had me captivated and I found myself struggling to put the book down, so much so that I finished it within a few days, and even found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. When a book does that to you, you know you’ve found something special.
The world building within Cinderella is Dead was next to none, and I loved how the author took a well loved fairytale, and gave it a dark, complex, gritty makeover. The laws of the land are bonded by Cinderella’s story and makes a world that is oppressed and where the women are practically enslaved. This story also, isn’t afraid to tackle topics such as domestic abuse, sexual abuse and homophobia. These scenes don’t make for easy reading, but it does open your eyes to things that are happening in the real world today. I commend Kalynn for bringing these topics to the forefront in a YA Fantasy, in a way that is both sensitive and thought provoking.
Regarding the plot, it was well structured, well balanced and one that kept my interest throughout the book. I loved how it was centred around female empowerment and wanting to fight the patriarchy. Sophia’s determination to fight for a better world was inspiring and seeing her do all that she could to make this happen was honestly, encouraging. The twists and turns throughout the story made for enthralling reading, and I found myself shocked at the climax and would have never had figured it out myself. The romances within the book between Sophia and Erin and Sophia and Constance were different, and I’ll admit I didn’t like how Erin treated Sophia and found her relationship with Constance to be beautiful and although it did move fast, I felt it was right for them. Sophia’s sexuality wasn’t questioned at all throughout the story. She was who she was and she wasn’t going to change for anyone. We need more f/f representation in YA Fantasy and I hope this book is just the beginning.
The diversity within Cinderella is Dead was awe-inspiring. Sophia was a queer, black female and that is something you don’t see a lot of in YA Fantasy either, and is one that I hope we start seeing more of. Also, most of the characters were female and I got feminist vibes throughout the story. These female characters were strong, bad-ass and wanted to fight for what they believed in. I feel that young girls that read this will feel like they too can start to make a difference in what they believe in.
Cinderella is Dead was an enchanting, spectacular read that did put an original twist on the story of Cinderella. It is certainly one that you all need to be looking out for and putting on your TBR’s, and I for one can’t wait to see what Kalynn Bayron writes next.