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Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Publisher’s Book Description:

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.

Published July 7 by Bloomsbury YA

Karen’s Thoughts: I spent most of The Teen’s toddler and early childhood years watching Cinderella over and over and over again. I know a few things about Cinderella, both in story form and in the Disneyfied version. I’m here to tell you, this is a wickedly cool twisted tale that will knock every readers socks off. Nothing was ever what I expected and it managed to surprise me at several turns.

This is both an amazing feminist and queer re-interpretation of Cinderella. Well, it’s not so much a re-interpretation as it is a look at what happens later after the story ended and how Cinderella’s legacy is used to manipulate and control women. It’s a dark dystopian in the tradition of The Handmaid’s Tale or newer feminist YA dystopians like The Grace Year. It’s poignant, chilling and powerful, and it puts a queer Black girl front and center, something that unfortunately doesn’t happen as often as it should in YA fantasy.

For every reader who wants to overthrow the patriarchy, this book is an entertaining read and a satisfyingly cathartic place holder and re-imagining of what that can look like. And it’s full of spooky twists along the way. Recommended.

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Publisher’s Book Description: 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. 

Karen’s Thoughts: I do love a good twisted fairy tale. And in this case I do mean seriously twisted.*

Having recently read – AND LOVED – The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, I found this to be a great next read in the girl rebel against patriarchal towns genre. It’s by no means a new genre, but this was a really fascinating take on the concept with the way that the legend of Cinderella is woven into the storyline. It is also fiercely pro-LGBTQ in ways that many other smash the patriarchy books have failed to be. And it stars a main character of color, which again is often under represented. So this book definitely helps fill a lot of gaps that are vastly under-represented in YA literature. We need a lot more books like this, books that are intersectional in their feminism.**

Every twist in this tale will delight and astound readers. I had no idea where exactly it was going to go and was amazed at the ways that Bayron could take the tale of Cinderella and use it as the base for her story and then completely change it in such creative and twisted ways. This twisted tale will challenge, delight and thrill readers. Highly recommended.

Epic Reads Chart of 162 Young Adult Retellings

*When it comes to book reviews, twisted is a compliment. Less so when you are talking about horrific presidents and real life serial killers.

**For more YA with intersectional feminism check out Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, and The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang to get you started.