ARC Review // Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

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Sophia Grimmins is a 16 year old girl living in Lille fed up with the rules of an oppressive patriarchal society. Every year the teen girls in the town are forced to attend a ball to offer themselves to eligible suitors for their hand in marriage, but Sophia has always had dreams of running away with her friend and love Erin.

When and incident at the ball leaves Sophia with no other choice but to run and leave everything behind or forfeit or life, she meets a descendant of Cinderella who’s willing to help uncover the truth behind the legends of the Beloved Cinderella and what really happened the night of the ball.

In this Fairytale retelling of Cinderella you’ll follow a dangerous journey of two girls fighting for what they believe in no matter the cost.

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My Thoughts:

Thank you Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. I was overly excited to receive an ARC of this novel because I love reading YA fantasy retellings and when I saw that it was a sapphic fantasy with a Black Female Lead you best believe I hopped on the opportunity to read it as soon as possible.

The story is set 200 years after Cinderella and Prince Charming have lived their “happily ever after” and Sophia is fed up with the rules that women and queer people alike have to live in order to survive King Manford’s rule. When Sophia has no choice but to leave her family behind after running from the ball she happens upon Constance, a direct descendant of one of the Ugly Stepsjsters, Gabrielle. Constance reveals that the King has been lying about everything that has transpired since to keep his rule over the kingdom and the two venture to find the revered Fairy Godmother.

I absolutely loved the original twist that Kalynn Bayron provided to Cinderella. There were multiple queer characters, and great feminist representation. The values that Sophia stood by really stood out to me because she never stopped speaking up for what she believed in, even when her own family didn’t believe in her. Sophia was also unapologetically queer and in love with her secret girlfriend Erin, and the way that she poured her heart into Erin time and time again broke my heart. However, the slow burn love interest provided was the tops. It was genuine and sweet and completely appropriate for a YA setting.

The antagonist was your standard YA Villain but really stood for a lot of things that we see in our society in the present. I truly believe that this book could speak to a lot of readers from different backgrounds and that as a reader you’ll be able to fall into the dark and brutal atmosphere of the book.

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I really admired how the author was able make the story severe without making the focus solely on the character’s trauma, it made it so I was able to enjoy the elements of the story but still focus on Sophia’s journey. I would absolutely recommend this story to anyone who loves fairytale retellings.

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