*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.