Book Review, Books

Review of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

This points contains a gifted item sent for review.

Today I’m here with a spoiler free review of Cinderella is Dead, as part of the blog tour hosted by Faye Rogers PR and Bloomsbury UK! I’m so excited to be writing this as I loved this book and had been desperate to read it ever since I heard the synopsis. A feminist retelling of Cinderella? Sign me up, and keep reading for my review.


Review of Cinderella is Dead

Synopsis
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 . . .  


In this world, everything we know of the fairytale is true. Cinderella existed, she married her Prince Charming and lived happily ever after… or so the townspeople are led to believe. In Lille, the story bleeds into every part of society. There are statues and monuments, rules that must be followed, magical potions for sale by “Fairy Godmothers”, and everybody knows the story off by heart. But the most important of all the traditions since Cinderella’s death two hundred years ago: the ball.

Once a year, each girl between 16 and 18 must attend a ball at which they can be chosen by any of the men to be their wife. For the men, their attendance is a choice, but for the girls, it is mandatory. And if they are not chosen in their three years of attending,  they are deemed spinsters and likely never heard from again. While many girls dream about the ball and finding their future husband, this couldn’t be further from the truth for our main character Sophia. 


“Everything I do, everything I say, it’s all about the ball. My path has been chosen for me since birth. My future is already written, and I don’t have a say in any of it.”


I was so happy to find that there was a really diverse cast of characters in this story. Sophia is black and Sapphic, knowing from a young age that she would “rather find a Princess than a Prince”, she has a good friend Luke who is also gay, and there are two queer love interests also. I loved that all of the side and supporting characters felt fleshed out and individual, adding to the story rather than existing simply to propel the main character.

While Sophia is out among her family and close friends, the society she lives in does not allow for anything other than female/male relationships. Sophia’s love interest Erin struggles with their relationship, as she doesn’t seem to feel comfortable being as open as Sophia is for fear of what could happen to them. 

The stereotypes of race, sexuality and gender really are challenged in this book, and although Sophia lives in a society that have been conditioned to believe only one way of life, she was headstrong, brave and true to herself from the beginning. There was no magical unleashing of power moment. I think it was important that Sophia was herself from beginning to end and that’s what really made the story impactful for me. She never waited for anybody to do anything for her and it was so inspiring to read about!


“I don’t want to be saved by some knight in shining armor. I’d like to be the one in the armor, and I’d like to be the one doing the saving.”


The romance in the story took a turn I hadn’t been expecting in the beginning, but (without spoilers) I loved how the two girls complimented each other so well. They truly cared for each other but never held one another back from doing what they needed to do. The yearning and longing was so sweet and I was rooting for them so hard!

The story actually went a lot darker than I anticipated, with some really grim scenes, that I actually really enjoyed! I loved how the Fairy Godmother storyline was interwoven with the main plot. From the cottage in the middle of a forest, to a familiar, to practicing magic spells, it really felt like something from a fairytale. What I definitely did not see coming, but was really intrigued to see how it would work, was the introduction of necromancy! 

Cinderella is dead is told in short chapters which fuelled the excitement and propelled you through the story. While the story was contained in only a handful of locations, it never felt slow paced nor was the impact of the story lessened.  The world building was also impressive; I was able to visualise each scene as I was reading it, and I felt as though the balance of plot driven vs. character driven was fairly equal.


“Do not be silent. Raise your voice. Be a light in the dark.”


This book was a fierce and feminist retelling of the classic fairytale of Cinderella, where the heroine doesn’t want to be nor does she need to be rescued by a prince. She sees the injustice in their society, the unfair way that women and treated and she vows to make a change. As you can see from this post, Cinderella is Dead was packed with inspirational quotes and I put it down just feeling good. This book needs to be in more people’s hands!

Huge thanks to Faye Rogers PR and Bloomsbury for having me on this blog tour. Thank you for reading my review of Cinderella is Dead, it’s for sure one of my favourite retellings and I am definitely interested in reading more from Kalynn Bayron! Make sure to check out the other fab reviews as shown below.

Kalynn Bayron is an author and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.

“My hope is to provide an opportunity readers to see themselves reflected in my work and take heart that they too can be the heroes of their own stories.” – Kalynn Bayron


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