Something is rotten in the state of Lille. Things went terribly wrong after Cinderella died. Or were they already wrong before? This debut novel by Kalynn Bayron isn’t exactly a retelling of the well-known fairytale. I’d say, rather, that it’s setting the record straight.
At sixteen, Sophia is about to attend her first ball, in the hope of being selected by a man to become his wife and, for all purposes, his property. If she’s not chosen, shame will befall her family, or worse. The problem is, Sophia has absolutely no desire to follow the rules of the monstrous king of Lille. Furthermore, she’s in love with her friend Erin and would much rather escape with her. Erin, however, isn’t as convinced as Sophia that another way is possible. In searching for that way, Sophia will meet Constance, a descendent of Cinderella’s stepsister Gabrielle, and another fiery and brave girl who won’t let anyone, especially not men, decide what her life should be.
I don’t remember so many of the books I read as a teenager being about overthrowing dictators or ending patriarchy. I am definitely not complaining, dystopian novels allow for fantastically badass characters and when they come with a happy ending, it’s even more perfect. I love seeing good guys or, more precisely, good gals overcome villains and bring hope back to the world.
Despite what felt like sequence-of-tenses discrepancies, Cinderella Is Dead is fast-paced, intriguing, imaginative and I loved the characters (if you read my reviews on a regular basis, you’ll know how important that is to me), even though I wish there was a tad more character development. And obviously, I love the idea of two queer girls throwing down the patriarchy. Kalynn Bayron is a new voice in YA / lesfic literature, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with after this.