ARC Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

ARC provided by NetGalley and Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

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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 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.

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Wow.

This is by far the best Cinderella retelling I’ve ever read, and that’s saying a lot.

Cinderella is Dead adds a powerful feminist twist to the fairytale we all know (or at least THINK we know) and love. It makes us question the stories we’ve grown up with, and encourages us to look beyond all the fairy godmothers, glass slippers, and ball gowns.

The world-building in this book was excellent. It helped create the very dark and oppressive atmosphere of the story. As a reader, you can feel how frightening it is to be a woman in Lille (the kingdom in which the story takes place). The treatment of women in Lille is beyond horrific. Women are considered property in every way: they are viewed as second-class citizens, they are punished or killed for resisting the men who control them, and they are OWNED by their husbands, who can treat them in any awful way they see fit. Sound familiar? The connections we can make between the oppression of women in Lille and the abuse and sexism of women in our world today and of women in history are truly disturbing. I applaud the author for not holding back from creating these dark metaphorical expressions and giving us such a raw, eye-opening read.

In addition to the world-building, the characters in Cinderella is Dead were fantastic as well. Our main character, Sophia, was tough, determined, and not afraid to stick up for what she believed in. We got to see the brave and feirce side of her, but we also got to see her vulnerable side. I think that the most badass female characters are the ones that have emotions and vulnerability in addition to bravery and toughness. Those traits add so much more complexity and depth to a character.

While I really liked Sophia, my favorite character was easily Constance. She was strong-willed, intelligent, selfless, and independent. I’m not sure if her romance with Sophia was completely necessary, as I think that I would have enjoyed the story just as much if there had been no romance. But I didn’t mind it!

My only critique is that the ending was a little rushed. It’s complicated because we really didn’t get to see any resolution. There’s just a time jump to when things have all been resolved. Given the circumstances of the story, I get it, but I really would have liked to see a longer, further developed ending.

Taking everything into consideration, Cinderella is Dead is a spectacular retelling of Cinderella. It makes us question the stories we’ve been told, and empowers girls to overcome obstacles and break down the barriers around them.

I can’t recommend this book enough!

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15 thoughts on “ARC Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

  1. wren @ wingsandfables says:

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book and the cover is so gorgeous! I love retellings so I’ll definitely have to pick this one up. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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