“Do not be silent. Raise your voice. Be a light in the dark.”
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is set in a world where it has been more than 200 years since Cinderella found her happily ever after. Now every year girls in the kingdom go to an annual ball in order to find their own Prince Charming and if their don’t…well their life is forfeited. Sophia doesn’t want to find a her own Prince Charming, let alone any sort of prince because she is in love with her best friend, Erin. Sophia hates the world she lives in and hates how women are treated as property of their husband or father. Soon Sophia’s turn to attend the ball comes and it goes horribly wrong. Running for her life she finds herself in Cinderella’s tomb and begins to discovery secrets that change everything she had ever been taught.
Let me begin that Bayron’s world building is so rich, there is just so much history and it makes you hungry to learn more. Her attention to detail from the scenery to the mundane everyday things made her writing rich and captivating. I truly felt that I was in that world too. I am always excited when i find books where authors make it easy to imagine the world through descriptive writing.
This book began with strong potential to be amazing, to become one of my favorite reads of 2020. However, it fell short and flat on its face. And it’s heartbreaking because it could have been so much more. My biggest issue with the novel was everything that happened to Sophia was so convenient. She never had struggle to make anything work because it was just handed to her. Like she has to convince a powerful person to help them defeat the king, the powerful person refuses and Sophia just has to say please and the powerful person is like ‘sure I will help you.’ This is just one of the many examples I can pull on about how convenient everything was. Everything was handed to her removing all agency and possible stakes the characters would have to face. It was…frustrating and predictable.
I loved Sophia and Constance and everything they stood for. Down with the patriarchy and unfair treatment to others. But at the same time I felt that I didn’t know Sophia? I know her want and need to live in a world where she can chose to love who she wants and not being treated like cattle…but aside from that she was a bit of a one dimensional character.
My favorite characters were Luke and Amina the ‘fairy-god mother.’ The fairy was more of a witch and she had so much depth and her character twist I truly was not expecting. And I wish there had been more of Luke. He just felt so likable from the moment Sophia got to know him.
YA fantasy retellings can either mean that the story is loosely based on the story or it is a literally retelling in a different light. Cinderella is Dead is a literally retelling and it did such a good job grabbing that classic and being like ‘yeah but what if THIS INSTEAD MUAHAHAHA’ and it was brilliant. I don’t think I have read any fairy tale retelling that has taken this particular type of darker route on using source material.
Overall this book had potential to be truly utterly amazing but it feel flat in plot and characters for my own personal tastes (but it was still a pretty fun read). I would definitely recommend it if you want your childhood Cinderella story turn on its head. I truly adored the dark approach to the classic Cinderella story. Also who doesn’t want to read a book of a queer black girl overthrowing the patriarchy?
Publication Date: 1st September 2020
RRP: $17.99 AUD
Personal Rating: 3.5/5