Cover Image: Cinderella Is Dead

Cinderella Is Dead

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Member Reviews

This was one of my most anticipated reads for the year. In some ways, it was all I hoped for, but in some others, it seemed a little too on the nose or heavyhanded. I really liked the main character as well as her love interest Merida. I am totally here for destroying the patriarchy, especially with a black queer Cinderella leading the charge! But there a lot of points where the author told me how to feel rather than showing me. This would have been OK at key points, but Sophia thinks in manifestos rather than narrative. 

I liked the author overall and will look forward to her books in the future. We differ some, but I think if we were on the same page her book would be magical.

This book is recommended for teens and up. There is violence, especially violence towards women. Not only that but lots of submission/dominance arguments and undercutting women in general. This is triggering for a lot of women (me included), so I wish I had had more of a heads up on the full toxic patriarchy on display for almost the whole book (and beyond just toxic, lots of violence against women).
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I’m a huge fan of fairytale retellings so this was one of my more anticipated books of the year. I thought the premise was great and I liked this unique spin on Cinderella. I did feel as though the story began to fall a little flat after the initial world building and character development... I just felt it needed more!

Overally I REALLY enjoyed it! Definitely looking forward to reading more form this author!
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This book is A-ma-zing.

I loved the twist on the classic story of Cinderella, and that it deals with important topics. It felt real. Even if this was a (well-developed) imaginary world, the struggles that "different" (the exact word used by the citizens of Lille to describe those who don't want to follow the rules) people had to go through before they were accepted is completely awful. Sofia is fighting a lot of battles at the same time: LGBTQ rights, women's rights... because if the first isn't even acknowledged, the latter is treated like absolute crap (major TW for physical abuse). 

This is a beautiful story of bravery, and it shows that if you believe in yourself, you CAN move mountains. Even if certain twists were predictable, I enjoyed it really much anyway. I think that everyone would benefit from reading this book!

Many thanks to Bloomsbury YA for the complimentary e-copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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So freaking good I loved it so much the storyline was so good and on point and just a great cast of characters and I love the love interest and the main character I am giving it five out of five stars.
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A fast-paced, fun, and adventurous YA fantasy story that subverted so much of what we know from the fairytale in existence. I found myself so attached to the main characters and I absolutely loved the way the story came full circle. 

I would’ve liked if the book was a little bit longer to allow for a bit more character development from the side characters, but all in all, a fantastic book that delivered on what it promised.
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I really loved that this book took place after the fairy tale and then explored what was true about it. It is all about Cinderella but we’re not in the retelling, we’re in the aftermath with a black female main character who loves women.

Not everything was as well executed as the premise but there were a few good twists and enough action and plot to keep the story going.
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If you are a fan of retellings, this is not one to miss! The premise is a very unique take on the classic Cinderella story that is inventive and fresh. Sophia and all the other girls in her town have been raised with the story of Cinderella and are themselves preparing to attend the ball at the royal palace. This is not an event like you’d imagine though. It is required by royal decree for all girls to attend and at this ball, men will choose a wife. If it sounds like a rather barbaric practice and like the girls don’t get much choice, it’s because it is. Sophia is determined to break free of this, despite the dire consequences of any who disobey. She wants to marry her best friend Erin and this poses many problems for her. 

I really enjoyed the “fight the patriarchy” message and queer positive plot but had a few issues with the pacing. I think it took a little too long to get going and the beginning felt repetitive, with Sophia bemoaning the societal rules and awfulness of it all. Once things get truly rolling, I was engaged with the twists on the classic fairytale but I wasn’t totally in love with the characters. I think I just struggled a bit with how quickly Sophia ditched the idea of Erin once she meets Constance. There didn’t feel like quite enough depth with the other secondary characters. I felt a disconnect and never really became fully invested in each individual’s plight or journey.

There are definitely some very interesting takes in this story though! Its uniqueness was fun and I enjoyed the tale. I think fans of retellings will also enjoy this spin on Cinderella. A strong debut!
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I really thought i would love this book..
it's breaking my heart that I didnt like a cinderella retelling :/
sophia was kinda annoying.. her love interests changed in a sec!! 
amina was so predictable.. 
i felt like the author was spoon feeding me all the thoughts and actions and just wanted me to accept everything.. 
if sophia tried to do all of that without mention why she's doing it 24/7 i would've liked it..
i also felt like the author really hated the original story and wanted to start her own, which isn't a bad thing but it was so obvious...
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[Review will be posted on 9/29/20]

This is the fiercely feminist and empowering story of rebellion you’ve been waiting for! This Cinderella retelling has a queer black girl overthrowing the patriarchy and is a must-read! Bayron’s debut YA fantasy weaves together an intensely powerful story that reimagines the fairy tales we all know and weaves them together with the ways society uses story to control people.

“Cinderella has been dead for two hundred years. I’ve been in love with Erin for the better part of three years. And I am about two minutes away from certain death.”

Look at those opening lines! I dare you to show me a stronger and eye-catching opening. I’ll wait. I was instantly drawn into the narrative and on the edge of my seat, a feeling that stayed with me the entire time that I read this book. I just needed the characters to be okay and love it when the plot has real stakes.

“People who don’t fit nicely into the boxes the kings of Mersailles have defined are simply erased, as if our lives don’t matter.”

Reading this book made me so angry in the best of ways! So many of my reading notes are some form of “🔥🔥🔥 burn the patriarchy!” The kingdom of Mersailles is built around the Cinderella fairytale… only she was a real person who lived and died 200 years ago. Her story (the one we all know) is basically the Kingdom’s bible and is used to inform the laws of the land, all of which are there to “keep the women safe”. 🤬🤬🤬

“There is no resisting. We can’t go against the book or the king.”

Mersailles is not a good place for women. It’s an intensely patriarchal society where any dissent is swiftly punished, frightening everyone into complacency. I absolutely loved the world-building and how the author crafted a place both familiar and new. The writing is so descriptive that I was fully immersed, and the pacing of the story didn’t feel bogged down by the lush descriptions of clothing and scenery.

The book is fast-paced and action-packed. I had a difficult time putting it down because I was enjoying the book so much. There is a layer of predictability with the plot; there was one thing that was so glaringly obvious to me for most of the book that got harped on for too long while Sophia caught up to me that dragged my experience down a little. But! I was so focused on that thing that I was completely blindsided by something else. I wish the book was a little longer though because the ending came too quickly and wrapped up very easily. I could have happily stayed in this world with these characters for 100 more pages.

“She must conform, know her place, and do whatever must be done to find a match, and so do you.”

Sophia is a main character you can’t help but root for. She is fierce and amazing and I love her character development arc.  However, some of the side characters felt one-dimensional. This wasn’t the end of the world for me as I was incredibly invested in Sophia, Erin, and Constance but I do wish more of the characters felt real.

“All fairy tales have some grain of truth. Picking apart that truth from the lies can be tricky, though.”

I love how kind and patient Constance is with Sophia; Constance models how we all can be better advocates and allies. I also appreciate that while Sophia was rebellious and had her own doubts before everything, she doesn’t simply accept everything she’s told straight away. The author does a great job showing that it’s hard to have everything you believe in shatter and it takes time and effort to unlearn things.

“We come from different places. I grew up knowing all of this. You’re just starting to understand it. But it’s okay.”

A central theme is the importance of one person having the courage to do something and how that one person can inspire many others. Everything about this society is meant to subjugate women and keep them tightly controlled, too afraid to speak up. Sophia’s journey to find her voice and not be silent is inspiring.

“Do not be silent.
Raise your voice.
Be a light in the dark.”

Overall, Cinderella is Dead is a powerful and fiercely feminist fantasy debut that everyone needs to pick up. It’s got amazing world-building, characters you will love, and it’s core theme of thinking critically about stories we are told is crucial. We need stories that empower. Kalynn Bayron is definitely an author to watch and I look forward to what she writes next!

Representation: Black main character (own-voices), f/f relationship, LGBTQIAP+ (gay and lesbian characters)
Content warnings: animal death and sacrifice, bullying, death, domestic abuse, homophobia, loss of a loved one, murder, outing of a character, sexism, sexual assault, violence
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I unfortunately decided to DNF this one. I really love the premise and I think that younger readers might enjoy this more than I did, but I wanted a bit more from it and sadly couldn't really get into it. I think a sapphic Cinderella retelling is such a good idea though, and I'd love to read more books with similar concepts! 
I also really enjoyed one scene I read where the main character and a boy she live near both had a conversation about them being gay and how this was really not accepted in their society. I love little moments of queer kids finding each other.
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I loved this brilliant, feminist retelling of the Cinderella story. Sophia is such a firecracker of a character and I couldn’t help but root for her and her cause. This was an incredibly fast-paced story that was highly unpredictable.
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I had high hopes for this based on the cover and premise of the novel, but I hate to admit I couldn't finish it. I got through the first few chapters, but it didn't keep my attention. I felt no connection with the main characters, and im tired of insta-love in books.
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I do enjoy a good fairytale retelling. And you have that here with a twist. We have a Black Cinderella who happens to be queer, she overtakes the patriarchy with a friend. I enjoyed the direction that the author went with this book. I want to say more but then I get into spoilers and that’s no fun. So if you enjoy the things that I have listed above then I suggest you read the book.
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I love YA! My first YA retelling/remix was A Blade So Black. I loved getting into the fantasy genre by starting with a story I was familiar with like Alice & Wonderland. I love YA but it's usually not fantasy. So, I had to read Cinderella Is Dead. A remix that gives a history of the Cinderella story with queer Black girls on a mission to change their community.

Sophia is 16, courageous, likes girls and is not a big believer in fairy god mother's or the magic that existed. I enjoyed reading Cinderella is Dead! I would think the story was going one way and was wrong! I loved that. Sophia Grimmins is not easily swayed by anyone, even the girl she loves. She wanted to see change in her world and she doesn't just talk about but is ready to risk it all. I found myself rooting for her along the way. I also smiled whenever she was in her feelings towards a couple of special girls.

In this remix to the fairy tale I was glad to continually think I knew what would happen next and be wrong. I enjoyed the reveals as the fairytale story began to be exposed. The same way dissident media can help to expose the truth. The town follows the history of the Cinderella story. However, we know certain lies told and passed down can be accepted as truth until the truth is uncovered. 

Sophia knew to create a change in how women were treated she couldn't just try to change leadership, she had to get the system abolished. Read the book to see the truths she discovers about Cinderella's story.
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. 

I loved the premise of this book. It was a solid effort to give a fairy tale retelling that featured diverse characters and a plot turned upside down. Although the book was not what I expected, fans of young adult fantasy featuring diverse POVs will love it.
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3 for neutral.  Unfortunately I was unable to finish this book.  I tried a few times, hoping I would finally be in a mood that allowed me to enjoy it enough to finish up, but it’s not happened yet. Will update if able to finish at a later date,
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*Given an advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is a fascinating take on what happened after fairy tale icon Cinderella married Prince Charming and how it’s not happily ever after.

Two hundred years after the death of Cinderella, in the kingdom of Lille girls are forced to attend a ball put on by King Manford. At the ball, a man will lay claim on the girl, and they’ll be married, even if the girl doesn’t want to. That’s the world Sophia lives in, and she hates it because she’s in love with her best friend Erin. But Sophia’s parents are putting everything they have into preparing Sophia for the ball in order for her to marry well, and Erin isn’t on board with defying the system. Sophia tries to get with the sacrifices until at the ball she realizes she can’t do that. In the process, she upsets the king and runs away into the dark forest. When she wakes up, she finds herself at Cinderella’s tomb with a redheaded girl named Constance who claims to be a descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. Constance tells Sophia the real story of Cinderella and how her life wasn’t a fairy tale, how a far more sinister event caused her death, leading to the kingdom diminishing the rights of girls and women in favor of male domination. Sophia becomes even more determined to be with Erin and works with Constance to take down the kingdom. They head to the home of the fabled godmother for assistance, and from there they learn even more history about their society and receive more fuel to save the girls and women of Lille.

The story opens the reader’s mind about the tale of Cinderella and how it can be interpreted as a failure and not a dream come true. The interpretation of the fairy tale’s legacy of oppressing females resonates in the current environment in different ways around the world, so it’s striking to see this kingdom struggle with real-life issues based on the interpretation of a well-known story. On top of the oppression, Sophia loves a girl and is told she can’t do that; it’s punishable by law. The transformation of Sophia’s love also uplifts the story with her feelings shifting to who supports her goal to take down the kingdom.

Overall, the novel moves with a nice energy, and the story continually interprets the Cinderella story in different ways that add to the uniqueness of this new story.
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The premise of this book is so exciting: a queer retelling of Cinderella that features a Black heroine smashing the patriarchy.

I really enjoyed this one! The allusions to the original tale are unexpected and interesting, and one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing how the old tropes and roles were altered, challenged, or subverted; in particular I loved the re-imagined fairy godmother character. I also thought the romance between the MC Sophia and her love interest was really sweet, with cute banter and a chemistry that felt genuine.

I do wish that the world of the story was more fleshed out to expand on the magic system and the realm outside the Kingdom's borders; and I also think certain characters could have been more developed in their motivations and role in the narrative. But overall, it was an engaging retelling with some great twists!
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basically the teen book that teen me would have killed to read. 

This book was good. It wasn't my favorite read of the year and it wasn't a book i'd probably read again - but it was good and important and different. There were a lot of pieces of it that I loved. I loved that it told the story of queer youth, I love that it was all about smashing the patriarchy. but I felt lost and a little bit confused without the world-building necessary to tell a story of a world such as this. 

Overall I really enjoyed this, but wish it had been a little more fleshed out.
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I will never look at the story of Cinderella the same way again! I thought because I knew the story of Cinderella, this would be pretty much the same with come minor changes. Yea, NOPE! I was wrong! There are a lot of changes and lots of surprises. I am here for them too! I enjoyed this and really hope we can expect more fairy tale retellings in the future!
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