Many thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the ARC! This book will be released on July 7 2020.
My Rating: 3 stars
I approached this book hoping to find some unique concepts and new twists on “Cinderella,” and it didn’t disappoint! 200 years after her death, Cinderella’s story has become almost like a religion and a method to keep women subservient to men. Girls try to emulate the heroine in hopes of earning a visit from a fairy godmother and families bankrupt themselves paying for gowns so their daughters will be chosen as brides at the annual ball. But it turns out the story they (and we) all know so well isn’t quite the truth. I read a lot of fairy tale retellings and many authors take on “Cinderella,” so I’m always impressed to find an author who does something completely new and different. Bayron definitely manages to do this. I loved how she twists the tale and incorporates it into her dystopian society.
I also appreciated the representation in the book. Sophia, our protagonist, is a lesbian woman of color. Anyone who has read some of my Fairy Tale Friday posts will know I always love finding LGBT+ retellings. In addition to Sophia and her love interest, there are also a few secondary LGBT+ characters. Fairy tale retellings tend to be a very white genre, so it’s also great to see some racial diversity.
My main issue is the lack of character development. I’d say it’s probably most noticeable with Sophia, Constance, and King Manford. Sophia’s personality boils down to outspoken and rebellious. That’s all I really know about her, and I had a similar problem with Constance. King Manford as a villain suffers from a lack of clear motivation. As the story unfolds we learn what he did, but we never learn why he did any of it. It seems that he just does evil things because he’s evil, and I prefer complex villains with more nuance than that.
Another result of the lack of character development is that relationships between the characters come off as incredibly rushed. Trust, anger, and love all come out of nowhere at various points. This isn’t helped by the fact that more than the first half of the book takes place over just a few days. The romance developing so quickly was particularly disappointing to me because Bayron does a great job deconstructing the love at first sight trope when revealing the true story of Cinderella.
Overall this a fun spin on a classic fairy tale full of fantastic and creative concepts.
Keep your eyes peeled for a Fairy Tale Friday post on Cinderella is Dead coming in July!