Cinderella is Dead
Published July 7, 2020
About Cinderella is Dead
It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
I think the thing that drew me to this story most was this idea that a culture could twist a fairy tale, particularly Cinderella’s story, until it actually became a reason to oppress women and remove their personhood.
Our relationships with fairy tales can be a bit complicated as it is. I know women who’ve rushed toward a wedding, thinking of it as this happily-ever-after moment without a lot of thought for what comes next. That seems to me like a model we’ve adopted from fairy tales, so I kind of liked reading this dystopian take on how a wedding ISN’T always a happily ever after.
All that aside, CINDERELLA IS DEAD was a super quick read. It’s a bit dark, between the twisted fairy tale story and some dark magic and violence. Sophie is brave and angry and incapable of giving up on the people she loves, and I love those things about her. She’s headstrong, kind of an “attack now, plan as I go” kind of girl.
I love Sophie, but there were times I wanted to see more emotional range from her. She stays super intense through so much of the story. Honestly, though, that intensity might have been what drove me through the book so quickly.
Something about the writing style and the setting reminded me a little bit of THE SELECTION series. It’s kind of the opposite in terms of the plot, but I think readers who liked the series for its strong-willed heroine and the marriage of romance and rebellion will definitely enjoy CINDERELLA IS DEAD.
Content Notes for Cinderella is Dead
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Sophie and two other characters are lesbians. Sophie meets a boy who’s gay. Sophie’s Black.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used around a dozen times.
Kissing between two girls.
A sorceress uses necromancy to raise the dead. Another character uses the lives of others to fuel their own power.
Violent Content – TRIGGER WARNING
Under King Manford, women have no rights and are treated like property. Their husbands have total authority over them, and can bring them to the castle as “forfeit” if they displease their husband or father. (This is pretty much a death sentence.)
Several scenes show bruised and injured women with the implication that their husband has harmed them. Some scenes show brief violence, and Sophie overhears a man attacking his wife in another room.
Sophie also consistently fears unwanted touches and advances, reacting angrily and sometimes violently if any man gets too close to her. It’s unclear whether this is the result of personal trauma or growing up in a culture which allows men to abuse women.
One woman is executed in a public square after being accused of a crime she did not commit.
Two women stab enemies.
Note: I received a free copy of CINDERELLA IS DEAD in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.