First book recommendation of the year, and it’s a doozy. Now and then I get an ARC that I love so much I want to sing its praises everywhere I can, and Kalynn Bayron’s Cinderella is Dead is one of those that I think I’ll be yelling at people to buy.
It’s a lesbian romance, though the romance takes a back seat to the adventure, which is the overthrowing of a dictator who holds every woman in his kingdom (and all good men who see the wrong in the system) under his tyrannical thumb. Each year, the girls who of marriageable age are forced to attend a ball where they will be chosen (without any say of their own) by any man who chooses to attend. The protagonist, Sophia, has always bristled at the way women are treated, not the least since she realized that she’d rather be chosen by a princess than a prince.
She flees the ball and finds the truth behind Cinderella’s story – the story that all girls in the kingdom are forced to memorize – and a horrible truth about the king and his predecessors and, together with another rebel girl, they start on a quest to save the kingdom and find justice for Cinderella and all of the girls who came after.
I can’t express how much I loved this book. I fairly flew through it and couldn’t wait to see what came next, finishing it in two sittings. I loved Sophia as a protagonist immediately and wanted to see her escape the situation she was in and survive to make things better for the people she cared about. The pacing was quick and while some of the twists were telegraphed, others came as complete surprises. The real horror of the piece, unfortunately, was the ease with which I could see such a kingdom happening in reality, much like how Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale seems all too realistic sometimes. This was a fantasy world, but one that reflects somewhat painfully the realities of our own.
Cinderella is Dead will be available in hardcover on July 7, 2020, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves fairytale retellings, diverse books, and good adventures for rebellious girls.
I give Cinderella is Dead a rating of 4 of 5 cups.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free as an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. This has in no way impacted my review of this book.