Book Review: Cinderella is Dead

Published July 7th 2020

Author: 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 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 . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them. 

Cinderella is Dead was a unique dark retelling of the fairy tale. In this dystopian version that takes place in the kingdom of Lille, 16-year-old Sophia Grimmins is about to attend her first ball. It has been 200 years since Cinderella passed and the legend of her story lives on and has shaped the society. Here girls attend the King’s ball where they will be chosen by suitors and are subjected to become their inferior significant others where the man controls the relationship. If a girl is not chosen by her third ball, she is considered forfeit and some of them are never seen again.

Some girls accept their fate, but Sophia cannot fathom being controlled by others and seeks freedom not only for herself, but all girls. She is resilient and determined to never back down. Not only does she wish to not be controlled by a man in this misogynistic world, but she is also secretly hoping for a princess and not a prince. The one thing that did get tiring about her character is how often things had to be explicitly spelled out for her. As Sophia has loved her friend Erin, she dreams of the two of them having a future, but Erin believes that there is no way. While all of them are at the ball, Sophia ends up escaping and meeting Constance, a descendant of Cinderella’s stepsister. Here Sophia now is on a journey to try and right wrongs and re-write history to reveal hidden secrets.

As Sophia has spent years in love with Erin, it seemed too rushed for her to fall into insta-love with Constance. As Sophia and Constance spend time together, the two eventually have great chemistry shown to the reader; however, I needed a little more upfront to make it believable. The timeline in the actual story is also all over the place as there are four kings within the last 200 years, which did not seem accurate. There are large portions of time traveling when Sophia and Constance are coming up with their plan. Some characters were given more attention than others even though they seemed important. All these smaller elements together overshadowed the amazing concept of the story. There is a lot of potential with this author, though, so this one was not quite amazing, for me, but I will read more from her in the future.

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