Cover Image: Cinderella Is Dead

Cinderella Is Dead

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Member Reviews

Cinderella is Dead breathes new life into a classic fairy tale that everyone thinks they already know.  Kalynn Bayron completely flips the story and will keep readers engaged through every page of this book. Sophia lives in a post=Cinderella world where the fairy tale is used to control young women and marry them off. Bayron uses the classic story to create something entirely new and it works so well. The twist near the end of the book is perfectly pulled off and will catch readers off guard. Fans of Cinder and A Blade So Black will love this book!
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Cinderella is Dead was a highly anticipated book for me, I absolutely love retellings and was quite excited when I was approved on NetGalley for an eARC. Well, it wasn't what I had hoped for, I thought the plot was very bland and reminded me of every other YA fantasy plot. I didn't see anything unique about the storyline and the main character drove me up the wall. Like, I get that she wants to over throw the patriarchy and I'm all for that, but it just wasn't believable and she was not that developed. I wasn't angry with her about what was going on like I should have been. I mean this world is super messed up, and the idea of women going to this ball to be picked by old men to marry is gross. It just didn't wow me though.

Another thing that immediately threw my off and made me roll my eyes was the insta love that goes on. I'm not for it and now I'm really irritated with the main character. I get that insta love is a thing and it's my opinion to love or hate it, but at least make it somewhat believable. Our main character loves her best friend and wants to run away with her before the ball happens, but the minute she meets another girl she is smitten with her. No thank you.

I really think a lot of people will like this book, I think after reading so many fantasy books, this one just fell flat. It needed so much more world building and characters being fleshed out. It also needed to be a little more believable throughout the story.
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CINDERELLA IS DEAD

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What do you expect to read with a title and cover like that?! To be honest I thought Cinderella was going to be a zombie 😅 Even though that is not what happened we did get to experience some necromancy in this book (slight spoiler, sorry!). 

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I have to say, this book took me for a ride! It reminded me so much of how important it is to speak up and use your voice (so relevant to current times!). Our main character Sophia is in love with her best friend Erin which is against the law, and they both are forced by the law to go to the annual ball so they can get picked as an eligible suitor from a crowd of men. Sometimes these men are wonderful men, sometimes they are greedy and pick more than one female, other times there are men that are mean and hurtful and just plain abusive! Regardless this annual ball is mandated by the king for all women in Lille to attend. The women of Lille are judged by their dress and their knowledge of the Cinderella story. One thing I learned from this retelling of Cinderella is that not everything is what it seems. 

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Overall, I loved it! CINDERELLA IS DEAD taught me the importance of standing up for what’s right, and to love myself and my imperfections. This book is also perfect for #pridereading as there’s a f/f romance. I would consider CINDERELLA IS DEAD a very #feminist book, and I love it! Because of the tyrannical rule of the king, Sophia is concerned and outraged by the mistreatment of women in the kingdom due to the law and she’s inspired to do something about it!

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These are just some of the reasons why you need to pick up this book! The rest, you’ll have to find out for yourself! My words and this picture can’t express how exciting this retelling is. If you’re a fan of fairytales and retellings, this one’s for you. Thank you to @bloomsburyya and @netgalley for an e-galley copy. 

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#netgalley #netgalleyreads #netgalleyreview #bloomsburyya #bloomsburypublishing #cinderella #cinderellaretelling #retellings #ireadya #yalit #bookstagram #booknerd
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200 years ago, Cinderella fell for her Prince Charming at a ball, and their courtship was so romantic every girl in Lille is required to reenact it on pain of death. It's a horrible meetcute: financially ruinous, degrading, and generally resulting in abusive marriages. The whole country is a misogynistic nightmare. Everyone submits out of sheer terror, but sixteen-year-old Sophia's love for Erin is so great she will tear down a regime to be with her. Sophia is a painfully generic dystopia heroine compared to her revolutionary ally, the stabtastic warrior Constance.
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In this dark retelling of Cinderella’s beloved fairy tale story we follow 16-year-old Sophie as she unfolds the infamous Cinderella’s story (which is more than it seems and is presented) and brings down the king and the kingdom’s patriarchal society. Every year all girls are required to attend an annual ball  in which girls are married off and disappear if they do not find a suitable match. Sophia is also in love with her best friend, Erin so obviously finding a suitor at this event is far from anything she desires. Everyone tells Sophia to conform, to hide who she really is, but she refuses to back down, not until the king is dead.

This book easily sucked me in and I found myself routing for Sophie every step of the way. Though I found it extremely enjoyable there were some plot holes scattered throughout that I couldn’t ignore. There was a bit of insta-love which can be quite annoying, and certainly could have been done better in this scenario. Some surprises at the end really pleased me, the plot twists were done excellently.

I had never read a retelling of the sorts before and I was very pleased to have my hands on it, especially with such diverse characters. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars, but it was damn close to perfection.
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A unique and original spin on fairytale classics. Riveting storytelling and stellar three dimensional characters that pop off out of the pages. I really enjoyed reading this novel from start to finish. Loved the fact that the characters were diverse in every way possible. Representation matters. I will definitely be letting my niece read this when she gets older and recommending this to teen patrons at my library.
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Between the gorgeous cover and this pitch - “queer black girls team up to overthrow the patriarchy in the former kingdom of Cinderella" - I knew I had to read Cinderella is Dead. I’ve always been a fan of fairytales and retellings, and this one has made it onto my list of top favourites.
 
All the girls in the kingdom of Lille are forced to attend the annual ball, during which the goal is to be chosen for marriage. They have three chances, after which they’re considered undesirable and are often forfeited to the palace, never to be seen or heard from again. In Lille, women are little more than possessions, and men are allowed to treat them however they see fit, which is often with abuse and absolutely no respect. Sophia doesn’t want any part of that for herself or anyone else; she knows things should be different, and she wants to live a happy, free life with her girlfriend. Disgusted and disheartened, Sophia flees her first ball and ends up at Cinderella’s mausoleum, where she meets the only living descendent of Cinderella’s stepsisters, Constance, and begins to learn that the true tale of Cinderella is far different from the palace-approved version known to everyone in the land.
 
I loved so many things about this book. As I was reading, I saw countless parallels to today’s reality, and I loved how the story was a commentary on modern society and the issues many people face while also incorporating magical elements that managed to feel realistic. The world Sophia lived in was bleak and heartbreaking, but she was such a bright light. She wanted to live in a world where women weren’t possessions and couldn’t be forfeited for things beyond their control, where they were able to choose who and what they wanted to be - and who they wanted to be with. When she met Constance and saw how brave, tenacious, and determined she was, she realized it was possible for her to be like that too. Those things had been in her all along, despite being told she wasn’t entitled to happiness or freedom, and Constance helped her see it was possible to do more than just wish things were different.
 
I really loved how Cinderella is Dead turned the familiar tale on its head in so many ways. A lot of people have an issue with the Cinderella story because they don’t like the idea of the prince ‘saving’ her or the insta-love aspect, or, in the case of the live-action Disney remake, the fact Cinderella’s motto was “have courage and be kind” but it led to her being a pushover. Sophia and Constance knew courage was necessary, but they put actual action behind it too. They were a fierce pair, and I cheered them on every step of the way. Sophia challenged the status quo and knew things should be different and could be, and meeting Constance helped her see how she could act on that desire for change and equality.
 
Full of fierce, kickass characters, an engaging plot, and enough magic to completely enchant you, Cinderella is Dead is a hopeful, inspiring modern day fairytale that should be on everyone’s TBR.
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200 years after the death of Cinderella, the kingdom is gripped in the iron fist of King Manford who uses and abuses his throne and power to control the girls in the French country of Lille and the surrounding towns of his kingdom. The laws put in place make it so that all girls must follow in the footsteps of Cinderella, but the laws are really meant to keep women silent and afraid. Sophia would much rather marry her best friend Erin than some prince or man of higher standing who will abuse and use her. When the annual ball, a mandatory event to reap and sell off the young women of Lille goes sideways for Sophia she makes a run for it. This running sparks the rebellion in her and she makes a plan to save all the girls and women of Lille who have been suffering for two centuries under the reign of kings who want to keep them down.

I absolutely adored this retelling. I literally cannot think of a single issue I had with this book. The twists were really strong and unexpected. I loved the fact that there was light and dark magic in the book and it truly illustrated how people could be comprised of both. The story itself was beautifully written, smooth to read and I was honestly hooked from chapter 1. As a fairy tale and retelling junkie I can easily say that this was the best one I've read in several years. I honestly hope she comes out with more retellings in this style with other tales. 

This text is very empowering for young women to read. I love that it shows that a single voice can spark change in a kingdom, with help of course, but our protagonist does a really great job of illustrating that change begins with the individual. Also gotta love the representation of a black, lesbian main character. Not gonna lie, LGBTQIA+ in fairy tales makes my heart sing and I loved this book all the more for it.
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Cinderella has been dead for 200 years. That might make you wonder how this story has anything to do with Cinderella, but JUST YOU WAIT.

It all starts with Sophia and the ball. Lots of girls in the kingdom are excited to go to the ball, but Sophia is dreading it. She doesn’t want to end up with some man she doesn’t know. She’s seen what women in the past have had to deal with when they are “chosen.” Abusive husbands are almost expected. Not to mention, she wants to be with her friend, Erin. But as Erin will not run away with Sophia and Sophia won’t leave all the girls in the kingdom to their fate, she lets her mother prepare her for the ball.

When the girls arrive, it’s worse than any of them could have imagined. Men leer and coerce and barter for the girls they want for themselves. But it’s the king himself who is the worst of them all.

By some stroke of luck, Sophia is able to get away from the party and ends up in Cinderella’s mausoleum. It’s there that she meets Constance, a girl who has been running from the King and his guards all of her life.

They make a plan to meet up and Sophia does something she never thought she’d do. She leaves Erin behind. She says one last goodbye to her parents and then finds Constance at the meeting place.

Who is Constance? She is a descendant of one of the original step-sisters. After Cinderella married Prince Charming, her stepmother and step-sisters had to run from the kingdom or risk being disappeared or killed. Why?

They weren’t like what we’ve been told all these years. They weren’t evil. They deeply cared for Cinderella and were helping her seek revenge.

Cinderella went to the palace that memorable night not to experience what it was like to be a royal or win the heart of the prince. She went there to kill someone (really trying with no spoilers here lol).

And her step-mother and step-sisters helped her with her plan! When the plan didn’t work out, they had to run.

It’s been 200 years, but the descendants of those three women are still in hiding, trying to escape the long arm of the palace and the King and Constance is one of them.

So, Sophia and Constance escape the kingdom and after some thought, decide they need to find Cinderella’s fairy godmother to figure out what exactly is going on.

What they find out on this journey and during their fight to free all the women of the kingdom will blow your mind. They do find the fairy godmother, but….you will not believe what happens next.

Ok…one spoiler: THEY BRING CINDERELLA BACK FROM THE DEAD!!

That’s all I’m saying and I’m not giving any context. If that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what to tell you.

Let’s talk Sophia and Constance. OMG I love their relationship. Sophia may start the book being madly in love with Erin, but as they spend more time together, Sophia and Constance form a almost unbreakable bond. Yes, this is a f/f book and it gives me life. The development of their relationship was one of my favorite parts of the whole book.

I also really liked the juxtaposition between how Erin treats Sophia versus how Constance treats her. Erin is very scared of breaking any rules and is not willing to run away with Sophia. It also seems like maybe Sophia’s love towards Erin is stronger than  Erin’s is for Sophia.

With Constance and Sophia, their love for each other is strong and equal.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two romantic relationships presented in this way and the first relationship not shown as a bad thing or the person as a bad person. It’s made clear that Erin is a good person. We (the reader) never think of Erin as bad or wrong. She’s simply stuck in an impossible situation. Saying you’re strong enough to run away from all you’ve known and actually doing it can be really tough. Even when Erin ends up in an awful marriage, she still doesn’t see running away as an option. She doesn’t want any harm to come to her family. You can’t blame her.

In their situation, who knows if we would be Erin or Sophia?

But Erin isn’t the only character that is well-developed; all the characters are. While the evil characters are definitely full-on bad, the reveal of their secrets is done in such a way that they never seem boring or one note. Their secrets come out a little at a time and each time one is revealed…just picture me yelling WTF at my computer screen.

Trigger warnings: mentions of domestic abuse, sexism, misogyny

Cinderella is Dead is one of my favorite books of the year. I’ve read a lot of retellings of fairy tales and classic books and this is by far one of the best. Every time I think about what might’ve gone into thinking up the different parts of this book, I’m just even more in awe of it. I cannot wait to see what else Kaylnn Bayron creates.

I am giving Cinderella is Dead 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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Interesting read, events move quickly but are well developed. Students will be drawn in by Sophia and her desire to want more of her own life.
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I received an e-arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

3/5 stars

I was very intrigued by the idea of this story and turning the fairy tale of Cinderella on its head and creating something completely new from it. I don't believe that I have read any other Cinderella retellings in the past so I was very curious to see how the author, Kalynn Bayron, would go about it. The  retelling aspects of the story were probably my favorite parts in the book. 

Overall, I thought that the story was good. It was interesting enough to keep turning the pages but I never felt fully drawn into the story. I never really had that moment of connection with any of the characters in the story to truly feel compelled with the events that were happening. At the beginning of the story, the main character is in a secret relationship with another girl in her town and she seems to really care for her and wants to find a way that they can escape and be together. But after some events happen in the book and our main character manages to escape but not with the girl she loves, she ends up running into another girl and seems to have feelings for her almost immediately. While the main character doesn't forget about her old love interest, it still seemed like she moved on rather quickly and was not as heartbroken as I would've expected her to be. 

I felt like the beginning of the book was a little more dragged out than it needed to be and that the ending could have used a little more action and been a little more drawn out to really feel the full impact of all of the events that happened. To me, the middle really seemed to be the strongest and most intriguing part of the book. I really enjoyed seeing as things were coming together and the plan was evolving. I was still mostly intrigued through the ending but I felt like the section that was meant to be the most action packed was just a lot of talking and very little action was actually done so the pay off for the end of the book didn't seem to be as climatic as it should've been.
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I DEVOURED this book in 2 days, and it is a solid binge read. I loved the idea of the premise (basically a tyrannical society with the Cinderella story as a founding origin story for a patriarchal Handmaid's Tale-esc kingdom), and was pulled along with the story to see how it played out. There were some times when the story seemed to move almost too fast (like I needed more details), and Sophia is a bit of a Romeo (staring off terribly in love with one person but then falling for another), but I think how fast I read the book is indicative of how good it is. I also loved that it's a standalone, as it's really hard to find good standalone fantasies. It also had a truly lovely twist at the end of the book. This book would be perfect for a a long trip or to occupy a day of reading. It's also perfect for anyone who wants to read about a queer black girl smash the patriarchy and/or fans of the fairy tale remix.
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I enjoyed this retelling very much. A new, original take on the classic story that will resonant with current times. The beginning was a little repetitive but overall
A exciting, fast-paced read.
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Thank you to NG and the author for this book!!

I’ll be honest.. it took me a little bit to get into.. but once it hit a certain point I couldn’t put it down!  I really ended up loving the MC and how she fought for what she thought was right. The story was well written and kept a good pace.

Thanks so much! Really enjoyed this read!!
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I think this retelling is an important one. It starts off with Cinderella being dead for 200 years now. Currently, the kingdom is ruled by King Manford. Since the time of Cinderella, there are strict rules put into law where women and girls are treated terribly. Girls are now required to go to the Annual Ball where the men of all ages can select them based on how they are dressed and overall look. If the girls are not chosen, they are forfeited by their parents and are not heard from again.

The main character is Sophia, who is also in love with her best friend, Erin. That is another thing that is not accepted in the kingdom, so she has to hide it. When it comes time for her to attend the ball, she makes the decision that this isn't how she wants to live and decides to flee. Only it's not so easy just to leave this kingdom and Sophia will have to fight for what she believes in.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think it went a little flat in the middle, but it picked up after that. I honestly never liked the original Cinderella story, but I really loved this retelling and the message in this book.
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DNF @ 57%

As is so often the case, I love the premise and the rep, but the writing just isn't working for me. So despite the immersive worldbuilding, I just couldn't get invested enough in the characters or the slow-build action to want to continue — though my only major critique, apart from personal disinterest, is the messiness and ethical dubiousness (not to get into spoilers) of the romantic subplot.

But with all that said, I want to point out that QPoC retellings are 100% something I'm here for, in principle. So I hope lots of people give this one a chance and enjoy it!
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Cinderella is dead, but for two hundred years her story has been acted out by countless girls living under the thumb of King Manford of Mersailles in the city of Lille. Rather than being a magical event as is depicted in the story, girls are required to attend, their families going broke in order to provide the best dresses and to stand out in the crowd so their child can be chosen and married to any man who wishes to make a claim on them. They follow these rules or risk that same child being forfeit to the the king where they are never seen nor heard from again.

These are the rules that have been set down for the last 200 years. In Mersailles, women have very few choices and no independence. They are fully at the mercy of their husbands or fathers, but to survive is to give oneself over to it.

However, Sophia does not want to relent. She does not want to be wed unless she can choose her partner, and the only love she has ever known is the love she has for her best friend, Erin. Such a love is absolutely forbidden and is a forfeitable offense in Lille, if not executable. When the day of the ball comes, something horrible happens that forces Sophia to flee. As she runs from the palace, she comes across the abandoned–but not forgotten–tomb of the original Cinderella. Inside, her last remaining relative, Constance, has the answers that Sophia has been seeking. Together they plan to find a way to reveal the dark and horrifying secrets of the king and his rule and bring him to his knees.


I have a thing for retellings, and this checked so many of my boxes. Sophia, although a little reckless and selfish in the beginning, is a strong character with a drive to make things right for all of the oppressed people in the kingdom she grew up in. Women and LGBTQ oppression is a huge problem in Lille and Mersailles, and both affect Sophia and her friends. Spousal abuse runs rampant throughout the book and is another factor driving the story forward. A lot of what the story covers is all too real in our world, and I love that they acknowledge that it’s a long fight and won’t just be over by killing the king. It is a long battle the involves changing hearts and minds, especially with a 200 year long tyrannical patriarchy to disband.

The supporting characters were also described in such an amazing way and the places and people are fleshed out nicely. I could see every phase of the scenes with Amina, the horrible beauty of the palace, and feel the undercurrent of fear and instability of the town. Bayron did an AMAZING job and I can’t wait to see what she has for us next!

Thanks to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for an advanced galley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions in the above review are mine.
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I had no idea about this book until a few days ago when I saw it on Goodreads, and I added it so quick. When I was approved so quickly, I had to pick up this book right away because there was no way I could wait to read a book entitled Cinderella is dead any longer.

This is such a masterful queer retelling of Cinderella. And it is feminist as hell. I love it. I do not know how Kalynn Bayron has such a creative brain, but she does and the world is such a better place because of it. Cinderella has been dead for 200 years, and there isn’t a happy after ever in her kingdom. Society is full of rigid rules and unhappy women. When a teen girl turns sixteen, she is forced to attend the same type of ball Cinderella did and be chosen by a man. The girls have no choice, but the men can wait until they are older. It is creepy, gross older men trying to marry teen girls. Not cool. Sophia has spoken out against the society her whole life. She wants to marry her best friend Erin and leave the horrible place they live in. But that isn’t going to happen without some kind of change. 

This story is so good. I could not stop reading once I started, and it is not a happy fairy tale. This is the darker one and not the Disney one. To me, this was a better retelling because sometimes I want to read something not so fluffy and sweet. This put an interesting spin on Cinderella and her story. Not to mention, it is super bad ass when a bunch of strong women take on a society to enact change, More stories need to be like this. 

I loved that this is a queer story. We need this more in general and with fairy tales too. But it was just a little bit cringe how Sophia went from Erin to Constance so quick. I want a relationship to build, not just be like omg hey another pretty girl I can fall in love with. I wanted to be more invested in the romance than what I was given. This book examines what it means to stand up for one self, be authentic, and use the voice one is given. It is well written, and that is why I was able to finish it in one day. I look forward to more from this author. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the advanced review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Predictable. Important. Frustrating.

I was so excited when I got approved for this ARC. It sounded like a book I'd absolutely love, but unfortunately this was not the case.

What I want to start by saying is how happy I am that a book like this was published in today's world. The representation for queer characters is something we do not see enough of in literature, especially within the fantasy genre. The themes of misogyny and starting a revolution are so important to read about, especially in this day and age. Alas, the execution of this story was something I simply could not get behind.

Too many of my personal reader pet peeves were in this book. Too much telling and not showing? Yup. A main character who is far too stubborn and doesn't bother to think before blindly trying to save the world because she's not like other girls? Yup. List like descriptions that blend and blur into each other and describe things you really couldn't care less about? Yup. A predictable plot to you but none of the characters seem smart enough to see what's obviously coming? Yup.

I understand that this book, in the end, was not for me. I ended up marking it as a DNF 20% through because I held zero interest in how things would shake out, and our main protagonist was simply too infuriating to follow along with. Since I never technically finished, it I can only hope Sophia ended up receiving some much needed character development. 

Would I recommend this book? Actually, I possibly. It really does depend on the person. These gripes of mine are frustrating enough to drop a book immediately, but that may be a different case for someone else. I think this book is so important to be published into the world, and I love to imagine the light it might bring to some other reader.
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I really enjoyed this retelling of Cinderella through a feminist, LGBTQ+ perspective. I immediately was rooting for Sophia and think teens will enjoy this diverse take on the classic story. I am looking forward to more books from this author.
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