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Title: Cinderella is Dead
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Published: 7th of July 2020 – Bloomsbury YA
Format: Hardback – 389 pages
“I think sometimes we make the mistake of thinking monsters are abhorrent aberrations, lurking in the darkest recesses, when the truth is far more disturbing. The most monstrous men are those who sit in plain sight, daring you to challenge them.” – Cinderella is Dead
Hello Hello! How are you all?
I’m so glad that I finally got the chance to post my review of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron because it has been sitting in my drafts folder ever since I wrote it right after I finished it in January. I buddy read this book with Candyce from The Book Dutchesses and we both fell in love with it.
It’s definitely a book that gets you thinking about things, especially fairy tales and what we’ve been told from a young age. I kept thinking about this book long after I finished it, and I know it’s one I will revisit in the future. So without further ado, keep on reading to find out my thoughts!
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 stepsisters. 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 by Kalynn Bayron is a YA Fantasy retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale that we have all heard at least once, only this one takes a dark spin on it and completely dismantles everything that could have happened. I have to say that by now, it seems that Candyce and I have a talent for choosing the BEST books to buddy read together.
This one was an incredible take on a story that we all think was filled with love and happiness, it takes away the pristine façade and it completely bulldozes through it all. This is a story about fighting for one’s rights, and I have to say, this is my kind of story.
I don’t think I can put into words how incredible, important and damn brilliant this book was and that ending had me a little teary-eyed because I was just like “YES”! You will know what I mean if you decide to read the book. I’ll just try to make this review as non-waffly as I can!
“It’s risky… But sometimes that’s the only way to get things done. Take the risk, light the fuse. Onward.” – Cinderella is Dead
This book is set in a world not really unlike our own because a lot of the predetermined ways people live, think and act are exactly like our own. There is prejudice, there is bullying, the fact people don’t stand up when something bad or wrong happens. This was definitely a very scathing criticism of our own society and I thought that it was executed really well.
The story is set in Lille, a small town in the kingdom of Mersailles. The obvious reference to French towns made me laugh a little, I can see people in France acting like this, I’ve seen it with my own eyes and it makes the book so much more poignant.
Again, I found the way the setting and the world was created to be very unique, but also not (not in a bad way), because this is basically our world. If you don’t realise how messed up our society is, when reading this book, you will because it was very vivid and you can’t help but feel anger towards the characters who just go along as if everything is alright.
I found this world to be so dark and it fit perfectly with the plot and the characters. If you go into this book looking for a cute retelling of Cinderella, this is not what you will get. It’s raw, poignant, truthful and dark. This setting made the book so vivid, believable and I was completely immersed.
Sophia: Sophia is the main character in this book and I loved her from page one. She is sassy, intelligent, she fights for her rights and she knows what she wants. We need more people like her in the world because she is so determined and wants to make things right that you just can’t help but root for her. She was so candid, such a believable and palpable character, I loved her. In the face of adversity, she just keeps on fighting and fighting, she is probably one of the best main characters I have ever read and this made the book so much more brilliant.
Erin, Liv & Luke: These are some characters we don’t see that much of, but they are important in their own way. A lot happens around them, and to them, so I can’t say much as I don’t want to spoil you, but I will say that I loved Liv, hated Erin and also really liked Luke!
Constance: I have to admit that I did not trust Constance for most of the book and she only started growing on me right at the end, but I did root for her the whole way regardless. She was a really interesting character, just as strong-willed and determined as Sophia and by the end I loved her. I don’t know if the author intentionally wrote her to come across as a little bit suspicious, but I didn’t really trust her for quite a while.
Amina: Amina was another fascinating character, and I really cannot say anything about her other than: I never expected that.
King Manford: He is the king who rules over Mersailles and from the minute our MC met him, I hated him with a vengeance. Again, I can’t say much, but wow, what a detestable monster.
Cinderella: Cinderella has obviously been dead for over 200 years, but she is such an important part of the book. There is the story that everyone knows about her, and then the other story that only 3 people know and that the reader finds out little by little. I really liked reading about this other story and see things slot into place slowly. Even dead, Cinderella keeps on fighting.
A dark take on a popular fairy tale/retelling: If there is something you love in books, especially in YA fantasy, it is retellings, as you know. And I do like my retellings to be a bit more on the dark side, well, this author definitely brought that to me and I was living for this book. This story had a special hold on me while I was reading it and I was intrigued to see where it was going. It was such a unique, dark and scary take on a beloved happily ever after story, and let me just say, you are not ready for it, but wow, just wow.
Fight for our rights: This was the pivotal message in the book and I couldn’t agree with it more. The author has such a strong and determined message to bring forward through her characters, you can hear her voice and her wishes through the world she has made and in the end, I was a bit emotional to be honest because we need more books like this one. This is such an important theme and one I love reading about in books, I found the message so strong here and it could not have been pulled off in a better way, I truly salute the author.
Relationships: There were quite a few relationships in this book and I really can’t say anything about them because SPOILERS aha. There was one relationship that I wasn’t sure about at first because I found it a bit too rapid and maybe a bit precocious, but as it went along, I grew to love it and root for the people involved. Some other relationships were interesting in the way that they turned out.
A seemingly impossible feat: This is a book that is basically about dismantling a prejudiced, violent, patriarchal, demanding and wrong society and the characters seem to be in an impossible situation. This book sets up a society that is not that different from our own and I was just rooting for the whole story, I wanted the bad guys to get what was coming to them, for karma to bite their arses and for truth and what is right to prevail, which is, unfortunately, something that rarely happens for us. If anything, this book shows there is hope and if you fight hard enough for what you believe in and what’s right, something good might just happen.
Amazing character dynamics: The last theme I want to touch on is the intricacy and complexity of these characters. We learn so much about them along the way and they work as a team. I loved to see Sophia, Constance and Amina team up against King Manford, I loved the female versus male dynamic and was just cheering them on, trying to read as fast as I could to see what would happen. I personally loved Sophia the most, she is an incredible character and carries such important messages, just like the one you can see in the quote I included below!
“I don’t want to be saved by some knight in shining armour. I’d like to be the one in the armour, and I’d like to be the one doing the saving.” – Cinderella is Dead
Trigger Warnings: animal death, arranged marriages, death, domestic abuse, descriptions of dead bodies, murder, misogyny, kidnapping and forced captivity, human trafficking, homophobia, prejudice, decapitation.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was a brilliant, raw, poignant and much-needed story about how fairy tales, happily ever after and society are not always what you think, that there is a dark and sinister layer just hidden underneath the surface and sometimes, you just have to go stamp on it. I loved this book from start to finish and I had so much fun reading it with Candyce.
The writing style was just so good. I was hooked and I would happily have read it in one go, but it was also fun discussing everything with Candyce every day. The pace was a little bit off at times in my opinion when the story suddenly lurched forward a few days, I would have liked to see what happened during that time and thought it was a bit of a shame to have so many events and days pass by really quickly, I think that is my only qualm with this book. But, I loved the author’s prose, it was beautiful and emotional, and I will definitely be reading her next book and every single one after that.
I gave this book 4.5 stars, you can find my full ASPECTS rating below. I loved this book from the minute I picked it up to the minute I finished it and the end had me all teary-eyed and very determined. This is a fantastic story and one that surprised both Candyce and me. I cannot recommend this book enough, I highly recommend it to absolutely everyone because it’s fantastic!
Thank you so much to Candyce for buddy reading this book with me, I loved this buddy read so much and it was great discussing it all with you!
“Do not be silent. Raise your voice. Be a light in the dark.” – Cinderella is Dead
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my post, see you soon, stay safe,
Atmosphere – 8
Start – 7
Pacing – 6
Ending – 8.5
Characters – 8
Theme – 8
Style – 8.5
Total = 54
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If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK – Amazon FR – Amazon US – AbeBooks – The Book Depository – Audible FR – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Blackwell’s – BetterWorldBooks