Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is a Young Adult Fantasy set 200 years after Cinderella’s death. Although the hopeful memories of her life remain, tensions are high as fear and cruelty have overtaken the kingdom of Mersailles.
Failure to attend the annual ball means certain death for any of the girls unwilling to participate. They are only given one chance to be chosen by a man; otherwise, they forfeit everything. But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen. In fact, she wants nothing to do with a life shackled to a man. Her heart belongs to another.
However, her love is not strong enough to save the one person she wants most. Instead, Sophia is thrust into a dangerous web of lies. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to stop the nightmare unfolding around her.
“People who don’t fit nicely into the boxes the kings of Mersailles have defined are simply erased as if our lives don’t matter.”
The world is full of fighters—those willing to use their physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to stand up for what they believe in. Is there a cause you feel strongly about? Would you be willing to risk everything for it?
As with so many Young Adult Fantasy novels, the worlds created tend to lean towards a broken and outdated monarchy. This includes an unjust dictator, usually a King or Queen, who care only about themselves and not that of their citizens’ wellbeing or lives. If Sophia lived in our world, she would undoubtedly make a difference, protecting those who cannot protect themselves. However, what’s interesting is that she, like so many others, don’t start as a fighter. They want to blend in. But does trying to be like everyone else bring happiness?
I didn’t know what to expect from Cinderella is Dead, but I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Don’t be prepared to read about a girl who needs saving. This story is about the girl saving herself and creating her own future void of dependence on a man. The author, Kaylynn Bayron, shows us that being different is a gift, and sometimes when you least expect it, a hero emerges within us.
This brings me to the first location of importance: The Palace.
“There is no leaving, Sophia. Not for you, not for me, not for anyone. We are going to the ball because it is the law. It is our only hope for making some kind of life.”
Sometimes being pushed into action is the only way for us to take action. Sophia doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s strong, outspoken, and knows what she wants. Yet only when she is forced to attend the annual ball and placed in front of the King does she take that last step that propels her into a future she never imagined.
As with many Young Adult Fantasy novels, the palace is truly the start of Sophia’s journey. Before this point, she is complacent. As long as she has the girl she loves by her side, she feels a decent amount of happiness in her life. But after this same girl rejects her and her friends start to mysteriously disappear, Sophia is put into a tailspin of emotions. Although she has the same fears as the rest of the girls in attendance, Sophia doesn’t let them pull her into a submissive state.
This brings me to the Second location of importance: The White Wood
“You’ve come a very long way. Venturing this far into the White Wood means only one thing-you’re either stupid or very desperate.”
Escaping the palace was the easy part. Now Sophia has to face the truth about what she’s found. Cinderellas tomb has always been surrounded by mystery, people questioning if it ever existed at all. So how does Sophia end up there, of all places, faced with questions she doesn’t know how to answer? She is aware that even thinking that Cinderella and the Prince’s story is untrue is against the law. But then why does the stranger she finds hidden inside make Sophia wonder if everything she has been told is a lie?
There is something different, however, about the stranger in the tomb. Her name is Constance, and she is a badass who knows who she is and what she wants. Sophia has never met anyone like her before, and she finds herself following Constance into the dangers of the magical White Wood. No one makes it out alive, but to find the one person who can help them, they have no choice.
This brings me to the third location of importance: Fairy Godmothers Cottage
“My mother taught me that I am a whole person with or without a husband. Who I am inside and how I treat others are the only things that matter. The same goes for you. Don’t let anybody tell you different.”
The encouragement and support of a friend can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes this love is all you need to push past that next barrier, make things a little less frightening. Constance is that friend of Sophia. She fills her with confidence and sees a spark that others might have missed in the past.
Constance is right to question the motives of the 200-year-old woman claiming to be the Fairy Godmother. After everything her family has been through, trust does not come easily. However, the alternative is worse, and Sophia knows it. They are out of options. This might be their only chance to learn what really happened in the story of Cinderella and the Prince, and they will take it, no matter the cost.