Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron [Books}

Genre: YA Fantasy – Fairy Tales – LGBTQIA+ (F/F)
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA 

That cover is absolutely, wonderfully stunning. Striking and powerful and one of those images that sticks with you throughout the book. And makes you so damn happy when the moment portrayed happens.

Cinderella married her prince and lived happily ever after, and now her story is told to little girls everywhere. Reminding them they must attend the ball, they must meet a man, they must dress pretty and look stunning to attract someone and if they are good enough, perhaps they will be visited by the fairy godmother. 200 years after the death of Cinderella, Sophia does not want to go to the ball. She does not want to find a man and live the life laid out before her. She wants to run away, preferably with Erin, but there is no where they can go, and Sophia soon learns she is not the only one who doesn’t want the life presented to them through Cinderella’s story.

This book feels unique. It’s not a retelling, and the twists it adds on Cinderella’s story make it feel so fresh and different. As huge a Disney fan as I am, the way Cinderella is idolized here makes for some uncomfortable reading, and it works so bloody well. It’s hard not to see parallels with the whole ‘Disney Princess’ fascination, the way we bring up little girls to believe they should want the life of a princess even when it is completely and utterly unattainable.

The book has some powerful social commentary, moments which make you stop, and think, and absorb, especially in the way society treats women and little girls. In this world, men get away with anything. If they get bored of their wives, they can ‘forfeit’ them. No one bats an eye if a woman is covered in bruises. And little girls are forced to tie their worth into being pretty and wearing dresses, with their parents often using up their life savings so they can go to the ball.

This is a story of rebelling without a rebellion, of two young women fighting against an unfair, unjust system, battling for what they believe is right, and pushing against the tide of popular opinion. Sophia looks around and sees people who are either happy with the system, or content not to tip the scales. But she also sees fear, and the way people who could change things are held down. But she fights on, because she knows it is the only way she can be happy.

Cinderella is Dead is a beautifully powerful novel about finding your own path, and doing what is right even when it feels like everyone is against you. Sophia is a wonderful character, strong and brave, and the f/f relationships are weaved in so well, I was cheering for Sophia to find her happiness the whole way through. This book shows how one person can make all the difference, and if you haven’t read it already, I would only ask, why not?

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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