ARC Review: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Title: Cinderella is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Page Length: 400

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Synopsis: 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.

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LINKS: Goodreads | AmazonBook Depository

My Review:

What if everything you knew about Cinderella was wrong? In this dystopian fantasy, Cinderella’s story has become a twisted tool to subjugate women and children. The kingdom of Lille strictly and harshly enforces laws to ensure that girls participate in a warped version of the Cinderella ball and accept their submissive and controlled roles in life, even when maltreated and abused.

Sophia, the protagonist, rejects these inequalities from a young age. She hates that women are “at the mercy of the fickle whims of men.” Sophia dreams of a life where she can be free – free to make her own decisions, free to love any girl she desires, and free from the unbelievable constraints put upon all women. See witnesses the burdens that women in Lille carry, and she hopes for something better.

Her dreams become a possibility when she escapes from the clutches of the kingdom and meets Constance, the last known relative of Cinderella’s step-sister. With Constance, Sophia learns the true Cinderella story, not the flowery, glorified version she learned in Lille. She also meets someone from Cinderella’s past who can help her figure out what is really going on in Lille.

Cinderella is Dead is an entertaining and immersive story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The vivid setting and dynamic characters captivated me from the start, and I was curious to see how the author could “retell” this classic fairy tale.

She did it perfectly.

Bayron took what we know of the story and turned it on its head. Was the fairy godmother really benevolent? Was Prince Charming really Charming? How did Cinderella’s parents really die? The story answers all of these questions and more in a way that creates a fantastical, action-packed read filled with vivid imagery and strong symbolism.

The protagonist is a fabulous young heroine. Independent and strong, Sophia is fearless in her quest for equality. She is young, fierce, and occasionally impulsive, which leads her into some interesting situations.

She also refuses to believe that her feelings are wrong. She loves a girl, which is prohibited in Lille, and Sophia rejects this prejudice. She knows her worth and fights to save herself from societal oppression.

Sophia won’t rest at just saving herself, however. She wants to save the kingdom and invoke change in this harsh and cruel society. She wants all women to be free from fear and abuse and to control their future. She wants the boys to grow up knowing that abusing women is wrong and to teach them honorable ways of living and respecting people.

When women go missing with no explanation, Sophia is even more determined to get answers and invoke change. Ultimately, she wants to stand up for what is right and convince others to stand with her to fight the misogyny of Lille.

Cinderella is Dead is a captivating feminist retelling of the Cinderella story with a cleverly constructed dystopian twist. A wonderful blend of action, romance, mystery, and suspense, this exceptional and fantastical page-turner is a must-read!


Favorite Parts:

  • The fresh and dark spin on the Cinderella story.
  • The protagonist. She is strong-willed and determined. She constantly questions the dictatorial ruler and the harsh and regimented ways of life.
  • The amazing use of symbols – Cinderella’s tomb, the castle, Cinderella’s diary, Luke, etc.
  • I noticed several references to Snow White, so I’m hoping this might be foreshadowing a possible sequel? A girl can hope!

Favorite Lines:

A prison is still a prison no matter how pretty the decor.

Just because they deny us doesn’t mean we cease to exist.

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking monsters are abhorrent aberrations, lurking in the darkest recesses, when the truth is far more disturbing. The most monstrous of men are those who sit in plain sight, daring you to challenge them.


Fans of YA fairy tale retellings will enjoy this clever and fascinating story. I also think fans of dystopian fantasy with strong protagonists who fight for freedom and equality will love Cinderella is Dead.

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