Cover Image: Cinderella Is Dead

Cinderella Is Dead

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Member Reviews

Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this book. I'll be posting my review on Goodreads and Amazon
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This is a nice, inclusive story for fans of Cinderella and other fairy tales.  Great for teens, but entertaining for adults as well. I would definitely recommend this to teen library patrons and include it in "If You Like... Fairy Tales" reader's advisory lists.
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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is not really a retelling of Cinderella. Yes her story is retold but the story really revolves around Sophia and her fight to be herself. A moral story that just because something is tradition does not make it right.

I really liked this story I like how Bayron changed the Cinderella narrative.but did not make it the focus. the narrative was weaved into the main story and it was done well. Sophia is a lesbian and there is that LGBTQ aspects in the book that very well done. I think when you read this story you get see Sophia grow in subtle way. Originally she is very focused on herself and over the book she expands and starts to think of others. There were twists but for me they were good but now completely unexpected. 

I am going to give this a five stars because I think this is one of the best "retellings" I have read in awhile. Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury YA for the ARC. This is an honest review.
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This book tackles all the current events themes when it comes to being a POC & being a female. Cinderella is dead was such a powerful book and I am so glad it’s out in the world for all the readers to devour.
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I wish I could say that I absolutely loved this book but that just wasn't the case. However that being said I did overall enjoy it! The writing style was very easily accessible quick to get through. And the themes of women's power, self identity, self love, and cultural acceptance we personified very well in this book. I also love that this book has POC characters and a sapphic romance as the forefront of the story. That being said I just didn't 100% connect with the characters and much as I would have wanted to. And for that reason I just didn't have any emotional invested interest in what their outcomes were.

The ending of this book wrapped up a bit too neatly for me. I know that this is a fairy tell retelling I just wish that it wasn't so clean cut! With all of the talk about the romanticizing stories and how not everything is as it seem you would think that the story would have more of a rough ending! 
The twist in this book was kind of predicable. You have this whole fairy tale flipped on its head and I wanted something more to be surprised by. 
The pacing of this book was a little bit off in my opinion but overall I think that it was put together rather nicely! This book has a ton of wonderful qualities but it just didn't quite hit the mark for me!
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Some stories struggle with making major concepts that we’re dealing with in real life applicable in their fictional worlds. From commentary on police brutality and the Movement for Black Lives, to providing queer and gender-nonconforming characters that feel true to life, many stories stumble when attempting to portray characters and plot in a way that envelopes the reader in their world. Kalynn Bayron’s Cinderella is Dead, however, has no such struggle. Not only does Sophia Grimmins, the main character, leap off the page and into your heart, but the story also does a fantastic job of rebuking patriarchal systems and representing queerness without going off-plot.

As the story opens, we are immediately thrust into the central problem in Lille, the province where much of the story takes place. Namely, that young women have been forced to endure 200 years of sexist rule – from a strict women’s-only curfew that begins at eight at night to being beholden to the choosing of men during an annual ball to gain any advancement. It is this ball that remains the central contention of Sophia’s introduction. She has never wanted to be chosen by a man and resists every component of participation in the ball looming before her in three days’ time. In fact, the book opens up with her having a brief rendezvous with Erin, another young woman whom she has loved for as long as she can remember. Unfortunately, love is not enough to conquer all the ills the girls face, a throughline this story reminds of us again and again. Sophia and Erin must both participate in the ceremony and circumstance that places all the burden on oppressed groups without even the thinnest veneer of hope for equity. This is reinforced when Sophia, after recognizing signs of domestic violence while getting fitted for a dress, bears witness to outright violence against a gay ally while on her way home from the same shop shortly thereafter.

Patriarchal rule holds little space for independent thinking, let alone rebellion – a lesson Sophia is reminded of several times throughout the story, from living with the knowledge of her own grandmother’s execution for being a dissident to what she later learns about the history of her world. Perhaps the cruelest aspect of the tyrannical leadership behind Lille is that they use the story of Cinderella, who in this story lived in Lille and married Prince Charming 200 years prior to the beginning of this book and died at 38, to shame the families of Lille into complying with harsh rule and living conditions. As any unravelling of tyranny is wont to do, we later learn that the true history of Cinderella’s life is very far from what the tale claims and that the public is kept unaware of the machinations of its leader, King Manford, and that the only ones who are clued into aspects of this system are those who seek to benefit from the suffering of others. It is only once Cinderella is Dead reaches its bitter end that we see some semblance of public discontent and Sophia must go through many challenges before then. Her stubborn belief in doing what is right deeply colors many characters’ experience at the ball and sends her on a journey of learning which goals and relationships she must hold close or release herself from.

Much like the classic Cinderella story, there is magic in the story, yet, it is not a central motivation, nor does it magically solve all the problems the protagonist faces. In fact, magic tends to be a cause for more heartache than help in this tale. A lot of the true magic of Cinderella is Dead comes in its ability to explain the ways the people of Lille, as well as those in real life, end up in situations where those least deserving of power wield it toward discriminatory and fatal ends without the world turning upside down to right these wrongs. I sincerely hope that a whole generation of leaders take strength in the plight of Sophia and act in ways that similarly changes our reality for the better.
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I started this book, but ultimately only made it a few chapters before giving up. Part of that was just personal; I wasn't in the mood for the type of story I saw developing in Cinderella Is Dead. However, I would also say that I didn't find the world-building particularly compelling at the beginning of the story. Still, the chapters I did read were well- written And I know there are readers who will love Cinderella Is Dead. I think readers who like fairy tales but wish they were more feminist and queer should definitely give Cinderella Is Dead a try. 

3.5 stars
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I wanted to love this book, I really did. It had all the elements that I love, a fairy-tale retelling bringing down the patriarchy, magic, and strong female characters. I was expecting more, and I think I let the hype of this book get to me.

I felt that this book was a bit too predictable, though the twist at the end made me shriek in surprise. I had a hard time concentrating on this book, I kept getting distracted by what was around me and I found that I kept making excuses to not read this book.

I want to get sucked in the world of the characters seamlessly, but I was left questioning it. There wasn’t enough depth or explanation of why things were the way they were.

Overall it was a good novel; maybe I’ll go back and re-read it one day or maybe not. This book was too hyped up and I was disappointed.
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This book fell a little flat for me. I loved the premise, and I love fairy tale retellings, but I found that this book was just a little bland, and I just sort of wanted to get to the end so that it would be over. It wasn't horrible, but it was a bit predictable and not as attention-grabbing as I was hoping.
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I really enjoyed this book- it’s an awesome darker fantasy story with LGBT+ rep that I wish was more common when I was a kid. I had a lot of fun reading this take on the traditional Cinderella story and I look forward to more from the author
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More of a 3.5 but I’m rounding up.

CW: domestic violence, implied animal death

I was excited to read a Cinderella retelling by a Black author and even more when I got the ARC for it, but just when I planned to read the book, I fell into a horrible slump and it’s taken me this long to pick it back up again. And I’m glad I did. 

This book was very easy to read and extremely fast paced, because the complete plot occurs in just a matter of weeks. I breezed through it in just a few hours and it was just the kind of thing I was in the mood for at the time. However, due to these factors and also this being a standalone, I felt that we didn’t get to know more about the world itself this story is set in. The deconstruction of the fairytale of Cinderella itself was quite interesting because I’ve never seen something like this, but other than that we don’t get to see much of this world at all. The events in the story also kept happening at such a pace that there was no breathing room, and I guess I also felt things were too convenient. 

I liked our main character Sophia for wanting a better life for herself outside of the constraints the world forces on her, but she was also impulsive and didn’t always think before diving headfirst into whatever she wants to do. I’m still not sure how I felt about her relationship with Erin because I thought there was too much of the two girls trying to force their opinion on each other. Constance was a character who did have some very interesting backstory, and I liked getting to know about her history and how she is trying to keep her family legacy alive, but she didn’t have a POV so I didn’t feel like I got to know her enough. 

I have never had a problem with the instalove trope, especially in YA because I don’t find it unrealistic. In this story, the affections transfer from one girl to the other in such a quick time that I wasn’t convinced, but I did enjoy the couple who ended up being together. 

There are quite a lot of side characters but the only one who left any impression was the fairy godmother. In this whole retelling of the fairytale, I think the way her individual story was changed and her character arc developed was both thrilling and unexpected. In a fairly predictable book, I think it was the only twist that made me go wow. The main villain and most of the male characters were vile and abusive while most of the women seemed to have given up and accustomed to their oppressed fate. 

As the book was marketed very accurately, this is a story about young Black women teaming up to bring down the patriarchy. And the book definitely delivers on this point. And I could see the point about how a charming leader can use his behavior/actions over the course of time to change the belief systems of an entire population, and let half of them be grateful for their oppression in exchange for security. I can totally see certain parallels to our real world and it could have worked as a cautionary tale - but I think the short length of the story prevented it from being a strong exploration of the themes of patriarchy, misogyny, domestic violence. And while I really appreciated the message of female empowerment and necessity of the dismantling of systems built by patriarchy, they were a tad superficial in execution. 

In the end, this was a very unique and fresh take on the Cinderella fairytale, while also tackling important issues. It has a sweet sapphic romance and a very fast paced narrative which makes for an easy and compelling read, especially if you are not in the mood for an intense epic fantasy. I just think it would have been even better as a series, so that the characters and world could have been fleshed out - the standalone format ultimately feels like a disservice to an otherwise important story.
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Thank you Bloomsbury YA for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Okay so first of all: the world. The world, while being pretty simple for a fantasy world, was really well done. I absolutely loved how Cinderella's whole backstory was constructed, and how the author came up with all of this from a fairy tale we have all heard of, while still being completely original. It's insane!! 

From the first scene, I really fell in love with Sophia. It was very satisfying to finally have a character say what I scream at them to say – Sophia has no filter and it's great.

Liv and Erin – Sophia's friends – weren't my favourite, but the author did a great job at making us care about what would happen to them. Luke, however, was a sweetheart and the only man of the book as far as I'm concerned. I was also really glad the book had a morally grey character (well, probably more than one now that I think about it but still). Morally grey characters are very interesting and very fun to read!

For the romance, first of all GO LESBIANS but second of all I rather liked how it wasn't that big of a part in the story. I mean, it would have been a little confusing as they had a lot going on on all other sides. So while I wasn't completely immersed into it thinking about it every second while I was reading, I shipped it and thought it was very cute!! But, again, definitely not the (or even "a") main part of the story. Talking about Constance though, I loved her to bits. She really made this book – I don't think I would have liked it nearly as much if she hadn't been there.

To expand a little on the world though, it's been a while since I read fantasy and this might not have been the best book to get back into it with simply because that world is so horrible. It definitely felt like an amplified version of our world, and reading about it over and over and over without a break was exhausting – and not necessarily in a bad way, just in a way that maybe I should have taken my time to read this book instead of binging it. The frustration at how unfair and horrible it is just builds up!!

The parts that I liked a little less were the plot and the pacing. My issue with the plot was that it was a bit predictable. There weren't really any surprises or "gasp" moments. There was also a quite big plot point that could easily have been guessed if you've seen Snow White and the Huntsman (the movie) because – and I'm not sure if this was done on purpose or not – it's actually the same. 

The pacing wasn't really an issue for me while reading, but now that I think back on it, the beginning of the book might have been a little slow. I think other parts of the book balance it out, but if you're really into fast-paced books, it might take you a little while to get into this one. The thing is that after a more or less slow beginning, that book did not stop. Which again is part of why I found it a little exhausting at times.

Finally, I cannot write a review about this book without mentioning the amazing themes it talked about and the message it sent. I mean, this is most definitely one of the most empowering books I've ever read. I am really here for the women empowerment and the f*ck misogyny message of it all!!! 

Overall, this is a book I would not hesitate to recommend!!!
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Cinderella Is Dead is a fantastic, twisted retelling of Cinderella. Added bonus is the use of diversity. The writing is gorgeous and has a haunting feel throughout. The characters are outstanding. Looking forward to more novels from Kalynn Bayron. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy twisted YA fantasy retellings.
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I usually try to read books all in one go just to get them out, but I found myself putting this off--not because I wanted to stop reading, but because I didn't want to be through with this story and its characters yet. This book is probably the best take on a classic fairy tale that I've ever read. It marries a new story with the old so well, all while so expertly dealing with oppression, especially the patriarchy and homophobia. Sophia's slow uncovering of what's really going on in the palace and the reality of Cinderella's story is both heartbreaking at times and also unfortunately very realistic. Sophia is such a compelling protagonist, and I was in love with Constance the moment she appeared on-page. 
Basically what I'm saying is that I loved this book.
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Cinderella is Dead was straight FIRE!!! Oh my goodness, did I enjoy this book. At first glance, it may seem like an average Cinderella retelling, but honestly, it was so much more. I adored Sophia so much - she reminds me so much of the type of fierce, passionate heroine that I could only aspire to being like if I ever landed in a dystopia. There was a little bit of a love triangle, but to me it actually worked out exactly how I was hoping it would!

Other things I enjoyed:
* The world-building was phenomenal! I was able to envision the dystopia/fairy-tale/historical fiction-y world that the book was set in.
* The twists and turns were done to perfection! This was one of the rare times that I could not predict the ending of a book. One character in particular was very gray & I kept getting tripped up on whose side they were truly on (and don't worry, this is a good thing!)
* And last but not least, IT'S A SAPPHIC BOOK BY A BLACK AUTHOR (which we *totally!* need more of!) and there truly is no better reason than that to pick this one up.
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One of the most unique retellings I've read, I absolutely loved the mythology and the twisting of the Cinderella story! It was my favorite part of the book. I also loved the diversity of the characters, though I found them a little two-dimensional on the whole.
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Rating: 3.5 stars

I really wish I could give this 5 stars because I adore the premise and what the author was trying to do. It felt like this book really suffered from the need for some better development editing, especially in the back half. Really all of my problems with the book could have been solved with better editing and some overall tightening of the story and pacing. 

The premise is amazing - 200 years after the time of Cinderella her story is used as propaganda to keep women obedient and subservient. They have no rights and are the property of their fathers and then their husbands. It's a harrowing set-up that is really intriguing for this dark twist on a fairy tale retelling. I also really love fairy tale retellings with a shake up on the traditional pairings - heroes paired with villains, changed up genders, non cis-het pairings... So a wlw Cinderella story? Yes please! 

There are some very beautiful and/or haunting passages, some interesting twists and surprises. There are also parts that are highly relevant with parallels drawn to the world we're living in today. There's a few lines in the eulogies that gave me CHILLS. Overall the bones to be an amazing book are there, I just wish it had been a bit more seasoned. I look forward to reading more from Kalynn Bayron in the future - maybe some more of those other stories mentioned in that book... 😉
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Cinderella is Dead is a unique story set two centuries after the famous fairytale happy ending of Cinderella and her Prince Charming, however happy endings are definitely not in store for the residents of Lille. Young women are forced to attend a ball inspired by the fairytale and there, men will claim their future brides based on their similarities to the famous Cinderella. This world where the story is based was shockingly sexist and patriarchal but it made the girls feminist mission to overthrow the system so much more important and potentially life-threatening!

Sophia is your typical YA heroine who’s easy to root for, not afraid to stand out and be incredibly impulsive, but she’s also a lesbian.. she is definitely the first lesbian Cinderella I have ever read about and I absolutely loved her! My heart broke for Sophia at the beginning of the novel as she begged her parents to find a way for her and Erin to be together in a world that would allow no such thing, this story is definitely an original twist on a retelling of a much loved fairytale.

There were definitely elements of the novel that could have been stronger, such as building on the personalities of the characters and strengthening the world building by adding more detailed descriptions but overall I read this novel very quickly, and thoroughly enjoyed the story. The romance was slightly too much of an insta-love situation for me to begin with but I couldn’t help but adore their attempts at awkwardly flirting with each other!

Cinderella is Dead is a stunning novel with a cover to match, everyone deserves to envision themselves as the heroine, as the fairytale princess and Kalynn Bayron’s novel of a Black lesbian protagonist pulling down the patriarchy will warm the hearts of many, I’m sure. I would definitely recommend grabbing yourself a copy of this beautiful book.
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Cinderella is Dead honestly caught my attention from the cover and title alone, which is where my downfall frequently occurs. I was so eager to start this book, mainly because A. It had a black female heroine. B. It was gay. C. It was a fantasy! Those three things alone are enough to capture my attention for a book, so I was hooked. However, this book did not live up to the expectations I built up in my mind. Which is a shame because the plot had so much potential. This book tells the tale of Cinderella’s world two hundred years after her death. It depicts how the idea of her shaped the lives of every woman in her town. However, this was not for the better. The leading character, Sophia, is introduced two days before a mandatory ball in which requires every eligible woman of sixteen and older to attend to secure husbands. The King of their realm gives each young woman three chances to attend and be married off. Failure to land a husband for the first or second time causes shame to the girl and her family. Those with too much shame or who cannot land a husband are essentially turned into servants. Sophia has many reasons for not wanting to attend this ball or to find a husband, the main is because she is in love with her best friend Erin. They have to keep their love a secret, and Sophia is the only one willing to do something about it. This tale shows her journey of overthrowing her King and the cage-like rules that have held the women in her town captive to men.

I hate this book, let us just get that out of the way. I genuinely wanted to like it and even forced myself to complete the book hoping it might get better. It did nothing but continuously exceed my dislike for it. I said the plot showed potential because it did. A lesbian living in a fantasy world where her sexual preference is not allowed. That sounds amazing, especially when you include the magic. Sadly, the plot fell flat and had too many plot holes to count. Not even that, I figured out the plot before I even got near the end. I don’t know if I was just super-intelligent that day or if it was completely predictable. I equally didn’t enjoy the depiction of men; it felt very hateful, and I was incapable of enjoying it. I know this didn’t explain much, so I’ll go further into each topic.

Man Hate:
As a bisexual woman, merely reading this book offended me on behalf of men. The book often appears as a way to specifically and personally bash men. I felt so uncomfortable reading it because it gives off this idea that all men are terrible. That they will seize the chance to hurt women if they can get away with it. Every man in this book was awful, save the one gay character. I’m uncertain if the author went through something terrible, but this perception of men seemed unfair and disturbing. I’m not suggesting she needed to fall in love with a man, but do they all have to be assholes just because they have a paynus and like women? It took me out of the story with how unrealistically mean every man she encountered was. I’ll leave it at that; it is something you have to read for yourself.

The Plot:
The plot at the start of the book sounded great, even though I began to dislike the main character within the first chapter. The book really sold me, but ever-so-slowly things just went bat shit crazy. The plot went from something interesting like overthrowing the king to having a confusing and never fully explained use of magic. It surrounded much of the entire book, despite it not being explained. The ‘bad guy’ in this book was so bland, he had no legitimate purpose for the immoral things he did. He was just evil to be evil, and there were no layers to his personality. The majority of every character in this book was one-note, save one character who I absolutely loved. The Fairy Godmother was the best character in the book, even though she too fell flat at the end. I enjoyed the idea of a dark fairy godmother; it was the change I never knew I needed! Aside from all of that, the book overall just felt disorganized. New things and characters kept popping up throughout the book with little to no explanation or aid to the plot. Things happened and there was no conclusion to any of it by the time the book ended. For example, Sophia goes on this entire journey because she does not want to marry a man. She wants her friend, Erin, but we never find out if they get together or if she moves on to the new girl. Also, we never found out what happened to her gay male friend. There were too many unanswered questions for this to be a standalone book.

Main Character:
The main character was selfish, ignorant, and overall dull in every way imaginable. From the first chapter, I disliked her constant need to selfishly put her feelings and wants above everyone else despite claiming she loved them. She constantly risked the lives of those she cared for the most and then took offense when they were upset about it. After the world is described to us, poorly I might add, she purposely says and does things that will get her friends in trouble. I never understand how authors describe that fire is hot and then immediately have their characters touch the fire. I agree she shouldn’t have settled with an unhappy life, but there are places and times to do things. It was her fault they beheaded the seamstress. She knew that interfering with the husband would bring consequences down on that family, but she did it anyway. Just like she knew that getting her gay friend on the dangerous side of an influential family would get him in trouble. Yet, she did it anyway. Her actions were not smart or done with care for those in her heart. She caused so many unfortunate situations for characters in this book and never once apologized or acknowledged her actions. If she was at least an intriguing character, I may have tolerated it. She isn’t and judges everyone and everything without stopping to consider their side. She has no hobby, skills, quirks, or a special personality that makes her unique or even entertaining. The story would have been a hundred times more enjoyable without her.

I regret receiving this book from NetGalley because I hate giving bad reviews. I honestly could find nothing redeeming enough to rate this book higher. Though I would read more from the author, I feel like the feedback might make her following book amazing. She had all the pieces she required, they just didn’t fit together in my opinion. Additionally, while I did not like the book, I did enjoy her eloquent writing. So I am curious to see what she does next. I hope this review aided you!
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