Review of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Read: 19th June 2020 – 23rd June 2020

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spoilers in review: Very minor

200 years after Cinderella’s death, the kingdom that she used to live in has become a dystopia. When girls turn 16, they are forced to attend a ball, where the men of the kingdom choose which girl they want to be their wife. Any girl that doesn’t get chosen by the time they’re 18 is taken away, never to be seen again. Main character Sophia doesn’t want to go through any of this for all of the obvious reasons, and also because she’s gay and in love with her childhood friend.

I loved this book!

I’ve seen a lot of people pitch it as queer girls in a fairytale setting teaming up to overthrow the patriarchy, and that’s exactly what this book is! The examination of misogyny, sexism, and to a lesser extent homophobia, and how the world of this book relates to our own, is about as subtle as a brick to the face, but that is the opposite of an issue for me. People with the same view as the villains in this book still exist in the real world. Some anvils need to be dropped. I enjoyed this book being so clear and unambiguous, and it’s definitely going to bring joy to the young girls who read it.

Did I mention that this book is queer yet? It’s queer as hell! Our main girls are very gay for each other and are completely unapologetic about it, which I adore! Girls waxing poetic about other girls is A+++ and that was very present in this book.

A small detail that I really appreciated was Sophia’s attitude towards dresses and traditional femininity. At the start of the book, she’s being prepped for the compulsory ball, and is obviously unhappy about it. But later on she says that she does like dresses, and sparkles, and all that. What she doesn’t like is being forced into them for the gaze of anyone but herself. I related to this a lot, and I’m sure that many people who read this book will too. And even if they don’t relate to it, it still serves as a good reminder that femininity in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, rather it’s the expectation of conformity to a specific performance of femininity that’s bad. Plus, sparkly hairpins double as lockpicks.

There was also a (possible) Shrek reference that made me laugh when it was revealed. I don’t even care if it wasn’t intentional, I love it anyway.

I would’ve liked to have seen a deeper exploration on how LGBT+ people are treated in the kingdom. This does get briefly touched on, but in nowhere near as much detail as how women are treated, and while it’s obvious that they’re not treated well, I’m still left with some questions. The ‘forfeit’ system, and how that works, is also left a little unclear. Enough information is given so the reader can understand that it’s bad and to be avoided, so the story functions perfectly well without a detailed explanation, but I still would’ve liked one. But these are nitpicks! That I didn’t even come up with until I was halfway through writing this review! Honestly, this book is great and I had a great time reading it.

All in all, I would recommend this book to people who like fairytales, dystopias, queer girls, and smashing the patriarchy into tiny little pieces.

I received an e-arc from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Quotes may differ in the published version.

Review originally written in 2020, prior to this blog’s creation

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Hive

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