Cinderella Is Dead is set in a stark-Fantasy world, 200-years after the legendary Cinderella’s happily ever after with Prince Charming.
We follow 16-year old, Sophia, who on the eve of her first Ball, can think only of how she wants to be with her girlfriend, Erin, forever after, not with some man, or boy, she doesn’t even know.
Even though it’s risky, Sophia pleads with Erin to run away with her. Erin refuses. In their society it is treacherous to be different; to want something different for their lives. Erin is scared to be caught, to put herself and her family at risk.
Within the kingdom, all young ladies of a certain age are required to attend the King’s Annual Ball, where they are paraded around in the hopes of being selected to be a man’s wife. They are given a limited number of chances. If not selected, it’s sort of unclear what becomes of them, but many forfeited girls are never heard from again.
The girls are chosen for completely superficial reasons, so it’s important to look your best; to be seen, but not heard.
On the night of their Ball, one of Sophia and Erin’s friends isn’t as prepared as she should be. The King reacts harshly and the poor girl’s fate is sealed.
After witnessing the King’s cruelty, and the citizens impotence in the face of such evil, Sophia can’t stand it anymore. She makes up her mind that she needs to get away. Feeling she has no other option, refusing to bow to these ridiculous traditions, Sophia runs.
Now a wanted criminal, on her own for the first time, outside the grip of the kingdom, Sophia begins to learn more about the kingdom’s history and finds that the lore the society is based upon is nothing but a bag of lies.
Together with her new friend, Constance, Sophia vows to return to the kingdom and dismantle the hurtful, unfair and savage system. It may not be easy though, as the King’s power stems for a formidable and unusual place.
While this started strong for me, with an intriguing premise and set-up, the further I got into the story, the more it lost my interest.
By the end, I was ready to move on. I still think this is a solid idea and build-up, however the final execution just didn’t match my tastes.
As the story opens, I was intrigued by the system and I still find that interesting. I also like how Bayron framed the society around the legend of Cinderella. It was a clever plot device for setting the stage for some serious examination of a patriarchal society.
I also really enjoyed and appreciated how well the dystopian tone blended with the fantastical backdrop. That was nicely done.
I think where this started to lose me was the melodramatic interactions between Sophia and Constance. I didn’t like Constance at all. I was disturbed at how quickly Sophia shoved aside her once-proclaimed super powerful feelings for Erin the second she met Constance.
That didn’t feel genuine. It kind of turned me off to both characters. I also didn’t vibe with how quickly and easily the girls seemed to be able to overpower, or influence, others. This was especially evident in the final scenes, although I don’t want to say too much here because, spoilers.
Overall, I think this was creative and had a very solid set-up. The ideas explored were interesting and I loved the use of the actual fairy tale to set up the basis for the functioning of this system.
Even though the execution of this didn’t quite blow me away, I am still definitely looking forward to reading more from this author!!