Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: No prompt used Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's publis...

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: No prompt used

Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 2020, A bildungsroman, A book that passes the Bechdel test, A book you picked because the title caught your attention, A book by a WOC, A book with a three-world title

TW: Domestic abuse, systemic abuse, homophobia, animal death, violence, abduction, death, misogyny

As soon as I heard about Cinderella is Dead, I knew I had to read it. A retelling of Cinderella about queer girls trying to overthrow the patriarchy? Yes, please.

Cinderella has been dead for 200 years. But the town of Lille and the surrounding Marseille still follow a set of rules set forth by Prince Charming. At 16, all girls must attend the annual ball to be claimed by men. Girls only have three chances to be claimed, and if they aren't, they become forfeits. And it's unknown to where those girls disappear. But Sophia is having none of it. She wants nothing to do with the men in Lille. She'd prefer to marry Erin, her childhood best friend, and leave Lille forever. So the night of the ball, she escapes, where she meets Constance, the last living descendent of Cinderella, and together they band together to try and destroy the patriarchy that is Lille.

I really loved this book. I thought the story was really great and I would love to revisit with Sophia and Constance and get to know them better. I thought they were both so strong-willed, though at times hard-headed and stubborn. They were both flawed, but their attributes really complemented each other.

I really liked the premise of the book. Unlike an adaptation, this retelling is based 200 years after Cinderella’s story ends, though within this book, the reader learns more about the “true story of Cinderella.” The world is very different than that is which we know from traditional fairy tales (the sweet ones, not the old gory ones!). Men control this space. Girls are basically sold to men once they reach 16, and if they’re not desirable, they disappear. It’s a horrifying world that is very realistic in some parts of the world today. But Sophia is smart, brave, and while she seems to come to trust easier than I’d expect, she isn’t a naive character. I really liked that she was so strong-willed, but also very soft and human too. I love when stories show that women/girls can be both strong and emotional, and this was very much one of those books.

Now while the story was great and I really enjoyed the characters, I will say that, at times, the dialogue was a bit confusing and messy. I noticed it more at the start of the book, then less and less as the story progressed. There was also this epilogue-style wrap up that did not do the story justice. I think the ending could have been left a bit more open, thus setting up a second story that I would’ve loved to see, and I think other readers would have loved as well (of course, I’m speculating here). It all just felt like it wrapped up too quickly and I hated that. It made the end seem less real and less aligned with the rest of the book.

"Just because they deny us doesn’t mean we cease to exist." - Cinderella is Dead, Kalyan Bayron

Overall, I really loved this book. I loved the queer love stories entwined in the pages. I love the interracial relationships. I definitely loved the smashing of the patriarchy. This book was a really great, engaging story, and I’d love to see more in line with this theme.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

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