Cinderella Is Dead is an inventive twist on the Cinderella trope. Set in the world of Mersailles which is ruled by the cruel King Manford, the story of Cinderella has been used as a set of rules for women to follow. After turning sixteen all woman are required to attend the royal ball, much like Cinderella. Here they are shown off to the men of the town who may choose any girl he wants for his wife. If not chosen after attending three balls the girls become forfeit and are never heard of again. With no choice but to attend the ball, the consequence being death or worse forfeit, woman have had no choice but to honour this tradition for the last 200 years.
Sophia Grimmins, who is in love with her best friend Erin, hates this tradition and is constantly searching for a way out. Unfortunately, she does not find one before attending the ball herself. She ends up running from the ball and consequently running for her life. Finding herself in Cinderella’s tomb she meets a mysterious stranger who wants to help her remake this cruel world.
I really enjoyed this book. It was my first read of 2021 and I’m glad I picked it. The world of Mersailles was wonderfully cruel. The idea of the ball made me feel angry myself and the thought of young girls being chosen by men who could potentially be decades older than them made that anger boil. I like it when books make me feel real life emotions and this was one of them.
There were a few parts of this which you could say were plot holes. However, I personally don’t think they had any effect whatsoever on the main plotline. It was more silly little things like the ‘mysterious stranger’ just happened to have a spare change of clothes with them in an abandoned tomb. So nothing too big.
Character-wise this book was interesting. Sophia is a queer black girl who is fighting to overturn the patriarchy. I’m quite terrible when it comes to reading the blurb of a book before buying it and I genuinely had no idea that this was an LGBTQ+ book. I love that sexuality was a part of a book that was set so far back in time (sorry I don’t know the exact date). Go Kalynn Bayron for challenging the typical white heteronormative fairy tale.
Let’s talk about the plot twist. I won’t spoil it for you as I hate doing that. However, just know that it is shocking. I had an inkling on what was happening with the king (which I was right about) but I had no idea how deep it went. I was left wondering at one point when the book was going to pick up the pace and actually have something happen. If you also read it and wonder this too. Just wait. It’s worth it.
Cinderella Is Dead does come to a succinct ending, so I don’t think there is any hope for a sequel. However, I would be open to another book set in this world with different characters. You do hear about a storybook which holds all types of tales, one of which being Snow White. I’d love to see an entire series of inventive retellings.
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