Cinderella Is Dead book review
Author: Kalynn Bayron Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
A twisted retelling of Cinderella
Have you ever read a book with a story line so good, you didn’t want to put it down? That book for me this week was Cinderella is Dead, by Kalynn Bayron.
The plot follows Sophia, a young woman who is caught in a world of little choice but refuses to bend to the system. As the title suggests, this is a retelling of Cinderella, but one with a dystopian twist that fully explores what the aftermath of Cinderella’s tale could have been had it been turned into propaganda. Sophia wants to choose her own path. She wants to stay together with her friend and love Erin, and she regularly dreams of running away. Her friends and family, on the other hand, dissuade her from such thoughts and speech; there are harsh punishments for women who stray from the ideal caricature. In this world, young women are expected to spend their whole lives memorizing the ‘state-approved’ Cinderella story and preparing themselves for the night of their Ball, where they are to be herded and chosen like cattle.
I absolutely loved how each character in this story was portrayed. Sophia’s head strong and independent nature was one that I would have looked up to as a young adult – even reading it as an adult gave me inspiration. Her amour, family and neighbors all had strong personalities and goals of their own that made this world fully fleshed out. While the target demographic of this book is young adult, Kalynn doesn’t shy away from depicting the raw, ugly nature of this universe’s patriarchy, and its effect on the women in the story. I would describe the atmosphere of this book as a ‘twisted fairy-tale’, reminiscent of the original Grimm folktales.
Cinderella is Dead tackles issues of familial and societal expectations, group-think, and seeking the truth. The main character goes on a journey to create her own destiny, finding strength and courage while rejecting the confining roles society imposes on her. In both Sophia’s story and our current reality, people are expected to treat the wicked nature of their leaders as normal. To say anything against them in public settings may lead to a risk of your reputation, career opportunities and in some sections of the country, outright detainment. For that among the other aforementioned reasons, I am sure this book will be relatable to all readers.
I can’t tell you how happy I was to read this book. I’ve talked before about the desire for Black characters in literature to be in roles other than as slaves or otherwise tortured caricatures of Black existence. We can exist in any role and genre of our choosing, and it is affirming to see that being explored in fiction today. Remakes of classic tales always catch my attention; there is so much you can do to flesh out those tales and make it your own, and Kalynn succeeded in this area. I read this book in one seating, and I look forward to reading more of Kalynn’s work in the future!
You can buy Cinderella Is Dead on Amazon right now.