Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Published: July 7, 2020 by: Bloomsbury
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
CW: sexual assault, forced marriage, murder, homophobia, misogyny, predatory behaviour
Sophia lives in a kingdom that draws its history from the story of Cinderella. But, the story has been greatly altered by the kingdom's ruthless king. Now, teen girls a forced to attend a ball where they are chosen to be wives by the kingdom's men. They have no choice but to accept the men who choose them. If the girls are not chosen, then the consequences could be deadly. Sophia is trying everything to find a way out of the ball, and her way out comes in the form of Constance, a mysterious girl who claims to be the last known descendant of the original Cinderella. Constance encourages Sophia to join her revolt against the king and reveal the true Cinderella story. But their journey will not be easy.
I was excited for this book. I don't usually love fairytale retellings, but this one seemed so unique that I knew I had to give it a shot. The idea of the story of Cinderella being intertwined with a society full of misogyny is something that I would have never considered could be done before. While I did love some aspects of the story, I do think it could have been executed better.
First off, I loved the themes brought forth in this novel. Sophia is a girl who is going through hell. This story goes into some dark themes that you would never consider to be linked to the Disney version of Cinderella. But I think the novel better aligns itself with the Grimm versions of fairytales. I think a main theme of the book is that girls are conditioned to believe one side of a story. This side could be steeped in misogynistic practices. But there are always two sides to every story, and this book seeks to reveal them. I appreciated how this novel tackles storytelling, and the way fairytales are constructed.
I loved Sophia and Constance as main characters. I think they are both pretty badass, and I loved reading about Sophia's commitment to finding a way out of her situation. She chooses not to be subservient, and she chooses to be a voice for the voiceless. I loved that about her. Both girls are also queer, and as you can tell by the book cover, Sophia is also Black. I think the book does a good job at showing how Sophia's identity as a Black queer woman also affects how she is treated.
My main gripe with this novel is the pacing. It starts off slow, building up the tension and sharing some backstory about how the kingdom views the Cinderella story. But the final chapters move far too quickly to be seen as a satisfying ending. To be honest, I assumed that this novel would be a series because I didn't think that everything would be wrapped up in a sufficient amount of time. But the resolution happens so fast and so conveniently, that you almost miss it. The consequence of this is, that I didn't feel like some of the secondary characters got enough page time, and I wanted to know more about where they ended up. The ending didn't seem believable to me. It just happened so fast. And I think that when a story has such a powerful revolt at its core, it needs to have an elaborate resolution.
Overall, this book has some good characters and a really interesting theme, but I think the ending is a bit disappointing. That being said, I do think this novel is worth a read. It deals with some tough subject matter for sure, but it also has some lovable characters and a solid theme at its core.
Have you read Cinderella is Dead? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess