book blogger · book review · fantasy · Retellings · Y/A

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

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 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 . . .

Expected date of publication: July 7th 2020

My thoughts:

*I was sent an ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Cinderella Is Dead is an incredible feminist retelling of the classic tale I never knew I needed in my life, but I’m so glad it exists.

The story follows Sophia, a teen girl from the kingdom of Lille, a place governed by the cruel and unjust King Manford, a land where women are suppressed at all times and must bend to the whims of the male figures in their lives. Each year there is a ball where all the eligible young women must attend and be chosen by a suitor or risk being forfeit, their lives and their loved ones reputations at risk. However, when Sophia attends and manages to escape this doomed fate, she embarks on a quest to free herself and all the women of Lille from oppression and with the help of the mysterious and intriguing Constance, finds out the the truth behind all the lies.

I loved the writing and pacing in this novel guys, it was just so good at every point. There was not one moment where I felt bored or wished things would hurry up and happen because from the get go, I felt invested in the characters and the wider story. Kaylynn Bayron has taken one of my least favourite fairytales and somehow made me love it and that’s impressive. She turned the classic tale we all know and shifted it and made it utterly her own, it’s so unique and well realised. I also love the easter eggs that are sprinkled throughout the book – no spoilers but I’m excited to discuss these with other readers when the time comes.

As well as the writing and pacing really working for me, I loved the characters, especially the main character Sophia. She is brave, strong willed, committed and has such a big heart, which I loved. I also loved the fact that she stays consistent the whole time, she never stops fighting for what she believes in and even when things seem dire, she stays true to who she is. I also loved that she was given room to be soft and wear her heart on her sleeve and also be the strong badass lead, without any side of her being compromised. It was honestly great to see a black queer female lead at the forefront of her own story and taking control of her own fate, as well as being on the beautiful cover – like seriously how gorgeous is that art work?

Through the harsh society of Lille, Bayron explores patriarchy and the constant suppression of women within the world she has created but also rings true to experiences women face in the real world. These moments are so raw and real and I think many readers will be able to connect with the sense of injustice and anger that Sophia and other young women in the novel experience day after day and how they each choose to deal with it differently. While this novel is all about speaking up and being revolutionary, it also speaks to how living in such situations can wear someone down, and the fact that this doesn’t make someone weak, it just speaks to the turmoil they have been forced to deal with. We all deal with our experiences in different ways and I appreciated that this was explored, and there wasn’t a judgemental tone.

Overall, Cinderella Is Dead is a well written, perfectly paced retelling of Cinderella with strong messages and badass female characters with plenty of heart, which I can see being absolutely huge on it’s release and deservedly so. I would definitely recommend this to fans of fairytale retellings, you won’t be disappointed!

Until next time,

Rumaanah x

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