Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron: A Review

“When the leader of this kingdom treats women as property, it sets an awful precedent. People think it’s okay to do the same.”

Before I get into the substance of my review: thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury YA for providing me an ebook galley of this story!

This book. THIS BOOK.

Cinderella is Dead is set in a fantasy kingdom that has been ruled for 200 years by a misogynistic tyrant. Every year there is a ball where women are mandated to go and men are encouraged, and the men size up the women before taking them home. It’s a meatmarket, but in pretty dresses.

The main character, Sophia, realized at a young age that she didn’t love men, she loved women. When she rebels against the ball and the leader of the kingdom, she becomes public enemy number one.

This story is engaging and fun. At some points the writing felt a little rushed and the characters a bit stilted, but the atmosphere and the commentary on the Cinderella myth made all of that worth it to me.

Girls grow up hearing of the Cinderella fairytale, reciting it, wishing for a Prince Charming, and this fictional kingdom reflects the damaging realities of this myth. Girls who aren’t Cinderella, who don’t fit her perfect domesticity and her humility, often feel like they can’t be a princess, can’t find love. This story takes that idea, takes feeling like Cinderella is not your role model, and gives it a voice. A loud, angry voice.

A couple reviews of this book have described it as “queer black girls dismantling the patriarchy”, and I’d like to say amen to that. This book is fierce and angry and feminist in all the best ways. I highly recommend it.

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