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‘Cinderella Is Dead’ by Kalynn Bayron is a Unique and Exciting Retelling of the Fairy Tale – Book Review

It’s been 200 years since Cinderella made her appearance at that infamous ball. Having had the pleasure of finding her prince, the girls in Lille to attend an annual ball at the palace to find their suitors, just like Cinderella. However, this is not a choice for them. It is a mandatory obligation that none of them are able to escape from. While the men in the kingdom have the choice to attend the ball whenever they please (or never at all), the girls of the kingdom do not have this same luxury. In fact, if they are not chosen by a suitor by their third time appearing at the ball, their lives become forfeit and they bring shame upon their families.

This is something that Sophia thinks about often as she wants more than anything to steer clear from the ball and run away with her best friend and love, Erin. However, Erin is adamant about attending, knowing that no one has ever escaped and if they tried, and were unsuccessful, the fate would be worse than death. Try as she might to get Erin on her side, Sophia’s attempts are futile and while in attendance at her first ball, she makes the choice to take her life and freedom into her own hands. Sophia flees and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum, where she finds an unlikely ally in Constance, Cinderella’s last remaining descendant. 

Together, the two make a vow to topple the king’s reign and put an end to the patriarchy. With many twists and turns along the way, Cinderella Is Dead is definitely a book that needs to be added to your TBR list. 

Cinderella Is Dead book cover
Cover for Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron, designed by Manzi Jackson (Courtesy of Bloomsbury)

Kalynn Bayron’s Cinderella Is Dead is an amazing debut novel. There have been plenty of fairy tale retellings over the years, and I think that this is one of the best. Not only was the concept unique and intriguing, the writing was on-point and I genuinely enjoyed the characters. I was unsure in the beginning just how the story would play out and while it does have a few moments that could be seen as predictable as far as fantasy stories go, it did nothing to hinder my overall enjoyment of the book. For me, it was a page-turner and one of the things I liked the most about it. An area that I would have liked to be more detailed was the world-building; granted this is something that isn’t as easy when you’re working with a pre-existing story. That said, the additions and new parts of the tale were set up and explored brilliantly in Bayron’s writing.

Another aspect that many readers will enjoy is the relatability of the characters throughout. You have Sophia who is headstrong, stubborn and wants the best not only for herself but for the girls and women around her. She sees what is going on in their world, knows that it isn’t right and wants to stand up and do something. She wants to lead the change, even knowing that it will put her in harm’s way. Then you have her friends, Erin and Liv who both want to find a suitor for the betterment of the lives of themselves and their families. While Erin is attending her first ball and she does love Sophia, she also doesn’t want to bring shame to her family. Therefore, she makes the choice to put her feelings for Sophia to the side as to her, it is the right thing to do. 

On the other hand, you have Liv who is at her second ball. Having missed her chance to find a suitor the first time around, Liv is hoping that she will be able to find someone this time. She cannot leave the ball with nothing to show for it. It would be an embarrassment and she doesn’t want to be considered forfeit by her family. So, you have this trio of girls who are childhood friends that are drastically different, but ultimately want to find happiness in whatever form that is. However, the difficult part of that is never truly knowing what happiness might be if they are only being forced to go along with centuries-old traditions that were put in place to silence and de-power the women of the kingdom.

This is what Sophia is fighting against and if you want to know if she succeeds or not? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out! Cinderella Is Dead is a fantastic retelling of an age-old fairy tale and begs to be read.

Cinderella Is Dead is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo and your local independent bookstores now.

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