Rethinking Fairy Tales in Cinderella is Dead

Posted May 13, 2021 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Review: Cinderella is Dead

Title: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Happy Brandy Norwood GIF by Disney+ - Find & Share on GIPHY
I have great memories of watching this movie!
Cinderella GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
You will not be able to look at this gif the same way after you finish the book. hehehe!

Sooooo I am kind of into fairy tales, like a lot. Which is why I picked up Cinderella is Dead in the first place. Also there was a Black girl on the cover! So I was jumping up and down when I saw this book. There is just something fun about putting a twist on a classic or exploring whether or not the Happily Ever After was all it was cracked up to be. For this particular novel, the HEA was a big ol’ fat lie. No spoilers, that clue is literally in the title. 

In a nutshell…

Cinderella is Dead is a queer, feminist story, with a Black female main character, that digs into what happened after Prince Charming and Cinderella got hitched. The main character, Sophia, is a beautiful girl who is in love with her best friend Erin and is dreading the upcoming mandatory ball. She wants an out, an escape, and she wants her girlfriend Erin to come with her to get away from the terrible society that features misogyny as its favorite pastime.

Rethinking Your Disney Obsession

And folks, the HEA dust from Cinderella’s story has long since faded away and so have the fun times for everyone in the land for that matter. Correction, it is not a fun time for any female in the land. The way this king is slinging that Cinderella story to the people for breakfast, lunch and dinner … The idea that the icons from the Cinderella story are used to terrorize and trap young girls will really make you rethink all of those Disney princesses and their HEAs.

As a result of the Cinderella worship, this society has been tipped on its side and fully immersed in misogyny, to the most disgusting degree. Trigger warning: women are abused and threatened on a regular basis. I found the level of misogyny to be a little over the top. But the point is taken that if these girls had a chance they would probably rip Cinderella’s legacy to shreds. And that is exactly what the main character Sophia and her new friend Constance aim to do. It is Sophia versus The Man. 

I think we need to burn the whole thing to the ground and start over. The entire system, the ideals that have been woven into this society. It all has to go.”

– Constance

You in Danger Girl!

Whoopi Goldberg Ghost GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

There is a lot of danger in this book. The most obvious is the the mistreatment that women have to be constantly cautious about in their daily lives – both personal and public. But a motif that runs throughout the book is the danger of love. I thought the author did a good job of illustrating the many ways that love can be dangerous. The examples of Cinderella and Prince Charming (obsessive love- he does hunt her down with her right shoe folks), Sophia and Erin (forbidden love) and some other key character relationships (you have to read, yes I am purposely being vague) in the book support this. 

A few hiccups

I thought the book slowed down a little too much in the second half, giving up the momentum it had gained with Sophia’s escape. However, it made up for it with all of the action in the end. Overall, it is a solid debut novel.. 

Would I read it again? It was a good one-time read for me. 

Recommendation: If you are looking for a book that challenges the concept of the Happily Ever After, check this one out. Educators: Good addition for your classroom library.

Leave a Reply