July 8, 2022

REVIEW Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: July 5, 2020
Format: eBook (Personal Library) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA 

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It’s been two hundred years since the original Cinderella found her Prince Charming, and the people of Lille have been obsessed with her story ever since. All the young ladies of the kingdom are forced to attend the Annual Ball and find a husband - fail to do so three times and it's seemingly a fate worse than death. Kalynn Bayron’s Cinderella is Dead is not your typical fairytale retelling, but that's part of what makes it so great. 

One of the first things you notice about the main character Sophia’s world is that it's rampant with sexism and misogyny. Instead of something resembling a fairytale happily ever after, Lille reads more as some type of dystopian society (with the original ball as the catalyst for the change). Females are second-class citizens at best. They have little to no choices available to them, and it was hard to read at times. A young girl unfortunate enough to be matched with someone who’s abusive and cruel is essentially stuck in that relationship for life. There wasn’t even the glimmer of hope that some patriarchal societies have; women are subject to the whims of the males in her life. For example, one male in the story “forfeited” his previous wife so he could marry someone younger. She didn’t do anything wrong, he just felt like getting rid of her. This was seen as a relatively normal occurrence, and nothing to worry about. All the sexism and misogyny in this world made me angry and made me rethink everything I’ve ever thought about the Cinderella fairytale, but that’s a good thing because that was definitely the author’s intention. Simply put, the whole tradition is horrifying and cringe-inducing. Kalynn Bayron challenges some of the issues with the original fairytale by peeling back all the layers of magic and wonder, and I think it’s extremely important to do so in today’s society. 

I loved Sophia’s character. She’s sarcastic, witty, and determined to stay true to herself and I was all here for it. I always connect with authentic characters, and Sophia embodies all that and more. I was particularly amused by moments such as when she sarcastically referred to Prince Charming as the “savior” of Lille. I don’t understand why she was so attached to Erin, but that was really the only complaint I had about her character. Constance is a much better choice in my opinion.

Bahni Turpin, one of my favorite audiobook narrators, narrated this book and it was yet another smash hit performance. I’m pretty much willing to read anything she narrates at this point. Her skill is unmatched, and she brought the story to life with her performance. It's not even a plethora of accents or something like that (though she’s capable of that too if you listen to other performances); something about the way she speaks just brings you in. I would probably happily listen to a recording of her narrating the phonebook without becoming bored. If you are a fan of audiobooks (or even if you aren’t), then I highly recommend you check out the audiobook version of this book. It will be worth it, I promise. 

Overall, Cinderella is Dead is an engaging and entertaining fairytale retelling unlike any other. I would recommend it to those who are looking for a non-traditional fairytale retelling. Easily one of my new favorite takes on the Cinderella fairytale, I’m excited to read more of Kalynn Bayron’s books going forward (This Poison Heart seems like a great choice for my next read).   

About the Book
Girls team up to overthrow the kingdom in this unique and powerful retelling of Cinderella from a stunning new voice that's perfect for fans of Dhonielle Clayton and Melissa Albert.

It's 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl's display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella's mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all--and in the process, they learn that there's more to Cinderella's story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they've been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

About the Author

Kalynn Bayron is the bestselling author of the award-winning YA fantasy CINDERELLA IS DEAD. She is a classically trained vocalist and when she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.

Instagram: @KalynnBayron

Twitter: @KalynnBayron

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