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.
Before I go into a big ramble, thank you Netgalley for accepting my desperate request for this book in exchange for a review.
a not-so-quick summary!!
Cinderella is Dead centers around Sophia, a teen girl who is not into men, but forced to go to the ball because all girls must go when they turn sixteen. She really isn’t into the idea, as you would assume, because she loves her best friend, Erin (yes, Erin is a girl).
In this society, everything is extremely patriarchal. Women can’t go out alone, there’s a curfew, every household must own a copy of Cinderella’s story, approved by the castle. Yes, everything sucks.
Before the day of the ball, Sophia also becomes friends with Luke, her neighbor who is not into girls. Luke is gay and that is not allowed in this society, but it’s easier for men than women in this society. Men can choose which year they want to go to the ball, women must go as soon as they’re old enough. Once again, everything really does suck.
The day of the ball, Sophia shares one last moment with Erin, who doesn’t want to run away with Sophia. She wants to get married and please her parents and conform. Erin up until this point had been continuously saying this already, but I guess Sophia really was hoping Erin would change her mind.
At the ball, Sophia is surprised to see Luke, who tells her he’ll choose her so neither of them have to suffer with anyone else. Unfortunately for him, his childhood bullies are also at the ball, and since they’re ranked higher than him, they have more claim over Sophia than he does. Gross, but that’s how messed up this society is. Luke gets beaten up and dragged away by palace guards shortly after and Sophia decides she’s had enough.
She makes her quick escape and finds herself in an unfamiliar place, where she meets a girl named Constance. Constance tells her that she’s in Cinderella’s mausoleum, and the story they all know about Cinderella and Prince Charming and the fairy godmother isn’t the full truth. Together, they decide they need to do something about the oppressive rule of the king and his predecessors.
I love the casual worldbuilding! It doesn’t feel convoluted and very natural as they just casually drop more details about their world into the story.
The name of the kingdom is called Mersailles and the capital city, where the king’s castle resides, is called Lille. To a side of the town is a forest that nobody ever goes into, because of the guards but also because of fear of what’s inside.
Later on in the novel, Constance mentions that she’s heard of a witch with a magic mirror in a far away kingdom. Since nobody ever leaves Mersailles, it’s interesting to see the possibilities of the rest of the fairy tales existing in this world.
Overall, a great book about (quite literally) smashing the patriarchy, with wlw romance, a Black main character, and a healthy amount of suspense. 5/5.