Fairytales and Stabby Lesbians: My Cinderella Is Dead Review

I adore fairytale retellings, so when I found out about Cinderella Is Dead -- a dark, dystopian take on the old classic with stabby lesbians -- I was totally here for it. Coming out the other side of this story, my feelings are a little ... mixed. Let's get into it!

Book Title: Cinderella Is Dead
Author: Kalynn Bayron
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury, 2020
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 400
My Rating: 3 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):

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.


A Twisted Fairy Tale

First and foremost, I was here for the fairy tale retelling, and boy did I get it! A lot of retellings just kind of rehash most of the plot points of the original story, but Kalynn Bayron created something new that purposely turned the story of Cinderella on its head. I adored the themes of questioning the dominant narratives and breaking down constructs. Heck to the yeah!

Several of the deviations from the original Cinderella story legitimately gave me shivers. Every time Sophia discovered a new lie she'd believed about Cinderella, I practically rubbed my hands together with glee! So right off the bat, top marks for an awesome take on an old story.

Goshdarnit, I Wanted to Love the Plot, I Really Did

As I just mentioned, there are some really great plot twists in this story, and I'm all about a good twist. But the plot itself just seemed a bit inconsistent. It was a little meandering at times, and there were a few odd plot holes that kinda threw me off.

I think part of the problem was that I felt the world wasn't super immersive. I might have had a better idea of what options the characters actually had if I'd gotten to know the world more. I got some glimpses of what could have been a really cool French-inspired fantasy, but it didn't quite do it for me.

Harold, They're Lesbians

Let's talk about the romance for a hot sec. I'm a little skeptical of love triangles, and I'm really, really not a fan of instalove, and this book sort of had both. But I ... actually didn't mind it this time, and it's mainly because this book is super sapphic and we just love to see it.

I mean, I figure that if I've had to suffer through 56874256 identical instalove romance arcs between a boy and a girl, I can be on board for one between two girls. I would have liked a little more development of both their characters to really feel their connection, but Sophia and Constance are cute, so I'll buy it.

Trigger Warnings for Cinderella Is Dead

This book might not be for you if you're sensitive to depictions of domestic violence, misogyny, homophobia, fantasy violence involving blood, and death.


Final Thoughts

Despite its flaws, I truly believe this book was a story that needed to be told. It touches on some super important themes about propaganda, hegemony, and how even the "good ones" can be part of the problem by refusing to speak up.

If you're interested in swiping a copy of Cinderella Is Dead for yourself, check out the links below!

Barnes and Noble | Bookshop.org | Amazon | Goodreads

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