Fantasy (Teen)

Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

A retelling of the original Cinderella story with Ownvoices representation

Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This blog contains affiliate links. I make a small commission when you decide to buy books via the Amazon or Book Depository purchase links available in the book review's post.

Cinderella Is Dead has been one of my most anticipated novels of the summer. With its retelling of a classic tale and the inclusion of Ownvoice representation, I knew I didn’t want to miss out! I read this as a buddy read with the lovely Nora over at Rating My Reads!

Cinderella Is Dead book cover

Cinderella Is Dead

by Kalynn Bayron

Published June 7, 2020 by Bloomsbury YA
ISBN: 1547603887

Data 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.

My Review: Bland Retelling

No one was more disappointed than me with this book. I wanted to love it so badly! And yet … it just wasn’t good.

The Pros: What worked for me

  • Great representation: the MC is Black and lesbian, and there are side characters that are gay in this story.
  • I actually liked the refreshed version of the original Cinderella tale – I just wanted more of it than what I got
  • The main message of this novel is to support feminism and critique patriarchal societies and homophobia. I cannot support this message enough and it was a very consistent theme throughout the book.
  • There was a twist in the story that I wasn’t expecting so I found that to be a nice little surprise.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • The story was so heavy-handed with its message that the actual plot fell through. Cinderella Is Dead became a vehicle to promote the views and ideologies of the author and the story suffered for it.
  • The actual plot was bland. There was nothing new being brought into the story and most things were easy to guess.
  • There was very little (if any) character development and worldbuilding. Absolutely no work was put into making any of the characters have a fully fleshed-out personality.
  • I didn’t like Sophia’s character, mostly because I didn’t know anything about her except that she thinks men are trash and she is a lesbian. Her actions, frame of mind, and planning made absolutely no sense to me because it was never properly explained to the reader. For me to love a book, I need to have a main character I can get behind. I couldn’t do that with Sophia
  • SO MANY PLOT HOLES! There are so many things that just don’t make sense. For example,(Click to reveal spoiler) Sophia and Constance find out about Cinderella’s journal that apparently reveals things about Prince Charming; Cinderella was going to give this journal to her step-sister. Well, then why didn’t she hide it in the area where she was going to meet her? Why would it be back at the palace? There are so many of these little instances that it took away from my enjoyment of the story.
  • Characters were conveniently brought into the story to highlight the suffering of the people and then just as quickly forgotten about. This is something I really don’t like because it doesn’t allow me to feel as if the story is ever fully resolved.
  • I was so looking forward to seeing a sapphic romance. However, the romance between(Click to reveal spoiler) Sophia and Constance was forced and unbelievable. How could you so quickly fall for someone else and forget about your childhood love?! I’ve never liked insta-love and this was the biggest case of insta-love I’ve ever encountered

This story had all the potential to be a great novel. But the author’s desire to use the story to promote their views regarding misogyny and homophobia let down the quality of the storytelling. For those reasons, I’m giving this 2/5 stars.

10 thoughts on “Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

  1. I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this novel as much as you’d hoped 🙁
    I’m even sadder as I’ve been so excited to read it but it doesn’t seem like something I’d enjoy much either

    1. It was so hyped and I was so excited for it. I really didn’t even want to post a negative review but I just wanted to be honest with how I felt. Maybe a younger audience would like it but if you’re looking for a story, then I don’t think this one will be enjoyable.

  2. I just ordered this for my teen collection at my library and it looked so promising! How disappointing that it didn’t work for you.

    1. It might work for a younger audience that perhaps can ignore character development and plot. But more mature teens will definitely find it less than mesmerizing. Either way, I would encourage you to give it a try and see what you think!
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. oh no, i’m so sorry you were disappointed by this one, vee! i’m really looking forward to it, but i’ve been hearing more and more about it not having as much character development so i’m a bit hesitant to see how i’ll feel about it. but great review, and i hope your next read is better! <3

    1. I really hope you enjoy it more than I do! I had heard that people were not too happy about the character development but it really didn’t work for me at all.
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Noooooo I was hoping that you would enjoy this one. The synopsis sounds absolutely amazing, and I’m sad to hear about the lack of character development and world building. 🙁 I may have to hold off on getting this until I read some more reviews because those two are the most important things to me in a story. I’m sorry this one was a let down for you, Vee, and I hope your next read is better!

    1. I know!!! I wanted to love it so badly but there were so many things that I just couldn’t get past. I didn’t even feel that I could recommend it for younger audiences because it does have a lot of misogyny to it, and triggering content. I’ll still be interested to know your thoughts on it so when you get to it – let me know!

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