Thursday, June 25, 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Title: Cinderella is Dead
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling/Continuation
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Acquired: Earc approved via Netgalley
Goodreads: ADD

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.

Can we first just take one whole minute to admire the incredible cover art by Manzi Jackson? It is so incredibly stunning, and personally I would have read this book based on that cover alone! But the synopsis is pretty awesome too, and definitely the main reason why Cinderella is Dead deserves your attention.

It's been 200 years since Cinderella's death. It's also been 200 years of the town of Lille being run by a strict and dehumanizing patriarchal hand. 16-year-old Sophia Grimmins (I see what you did there Kalynn Bayron!), is getting ready to attend the annual ball held by the King, where the town's young women are matched with suitors in true "Happily Ever After" fashion, just like Cinderella. Except there's nothing happy about the ball for Sophia, who is in love with her best friend Erin, and is hell-bent on escaping a fate that seems set in stone. And while she's at it, why not take the whole thing down!?

I. WANT. TO. SHOUT. FROM. MOUNTAINS about how this book pierced my heart. I was transported from the very first page; Bayron crafted a fairytale world that felt so intricately real and so purposefully disheartening. It wasn't just another angsty teen trope where the character is melodramatically angry about her life and her future, this narrative delved into the very real, and very prevalent issue of male dominance. My heart hung heavy the entire time, but was picked up by moments of genuine and heartfelt emotion; each character was written with such care and detail. And OMG THAT SAPPHIC REP, it made my whole being sing, I swear. Sophia is easily one of my new favorite characters, and I cannot WAIT to read whatever Bayron puts out next!

Read if you like:

The Grace Year by Kim Ligget
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Key themes: 
patriarchal rule, friendship, romance, queer love, family, oppression of women, magic  



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.



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