Cinderella is Dead
By Kalynn Bayron
Published by Bloomsbury
What it’s about?
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 forfeit.
But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen. She doesn’t want to go to the ball at all. Not when she’s afraid the girl she loves might be chosen too.
Pushed beyond breaking by a society that denies everything she is, Sophia sets out on a journey that will remake her world … into one where SHE gets to choose.
What I think:
There is a lot of love for this book on Bookstagram – partly because the cover art is so striking – so I was super excited to receive a copy via Netgalley.
This is a really interesting take on the Cinderella story. The ‘Cinderella’ character, Sophia, is black, lesbian and feminist.
At sixteen, she has grown up in a country where the Cinderella story is enshrined into tradition and use to subjagate women. Teenage girls are forced to attend an annual ball where they will be selected by men to be wives. Girls who are not selected face a sinister future.
Sophia is determined to escape from her fate. Escaping the ball she hides at Cinderella’s mausoleum, where she meets Constance, a dependent of one of the step-sisters from the story. They team up to try and uncover the truth behind the fairytale. And it turns out to be far darker than you thought.
I found that this started slowly as the writer builds a dystopia society in which the Cinderella story is taken as law. Women are oppressed and beauty is valued above all else. Women who do not find husbands are disposable and those that do are not necessarily better off.
Sophia has a deep connection to her best friend Erin and realises that her feelings are romantic. However, growing up in the fairytale inspired world same-sex relationships are forbidden. I think it’s a powerful theme in the book that Sophia refuses to hide her true self.
Constance is equally fierce. Forced to live on the fringes of society, she is streetwise and willing to do anything to protect the people she cares about.
There are some very unlikeable characters in this book. Some of the men are completely misogynistic and vice, while others, although loving, are just as complicit in the oppression of women.
I absolutely did not see the twists coming and there were a few wow moments towards the end. And I was pleased that Cinderella’s own story got a chance to be told, but the ending was a bit too neat. This didn’t quite live up to the hype, but it was a great, quick read and a compelling take on a well-told tale.
Thank you Bloomsbury and Netgalley for gifting me a copy in return for an honest review.
You can read Cinderella is Dead for yourself:
Waterstones: click here
Amazon.co.uk: click here