Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is a refreshing retelling of a fairy tale that most little girls know by heart. This time however the main character is a young Black queer girl who wants to overthrow the government that has been put into place ever since Cinderella died. This government forces all the young girls to attend a yearly ball similar to the one Cinderella attended where she met the prince in order to find their be auctioned off to their “true love” and be married off forever. Systematic patriarchy at its finest!
The main character of Cinderella Is Dead is a young girl named Sophia. Sophia wants nothing to do with the patriarchal system that she resides under. All she wants to do is able to be with her best friend Erin whom she is in love with. Unfortunately, her family and Erin refuse to rebuke the system and Sophia finds herself alone and on the run. Along the way, she encounters a group of diverse characters each of whom help her piece together the truth behind the story of Cinderella and encourage her to try and break the binds of the status quo.
I liked Sophia as a character. She’s tough but she has a heart. She’s determined but, she is cautious and questioning and wants to think things through before she attacks. She is secure within herself as young gay woman refusing to change or conform to what her family and society want her to do. She is a breath of fresh air in the patriarchal society that she is living in. As a reader, I would have loved a little bit more back ground information in regards to how she become how she was. You get a little insight that her grandmother also disagreed with the government and had a role in helping her granddaughter form her opinion but, I would have liked to have just a little bit more.
The other thing that I would have loved to have more detail put into was the love story. Shortly after Sophia runs away she meets Constance who is actually a descendant of the original Cinderella. Unfortunately, the relationship that is formed between Sophia and Constance felt very insta-love to me and that was a feeling that I was just unable to shake as a read the story. I understand that it was a fairy-tale type premise so I’m willing to give it a little bit of a leeway because of that but, honestly I would have liked to see it develop a bit more. It also felt like Sophia got over her feelings and devotion to Erin, whom she’d been willing to risk her entire life for previously, relatively quick.
All-in-all, I enjoyed Cinderella Is Dead. It is a refreshingly inclusive retelling of a classic story with a main character and crew of side characters that you can truly root for. I found myself getting easily lost in the pages of this re-imagined world and at the end I was left feeling inspired and ready to conquer.
“Take the risk, light the fuse. Onward.”
Rating: 4 Stars