Forget everything you think you know about Cinderella and prepare to learn the truth. Cinderella is Dead takes place generations after Cinderella’s “happily ever after” with Prince Charming. Now the monarchy rules the kingdom based on their approved version of the Cinderella story. The kingdom’s rules require that girls attend a ball when they turn 16 so wealthy men of the kingdom can choose mates. The young women essentially become their property. All the girls in the kingdom are forced to comply, many unwillingly. If they refuse, they and their families will be punished, so they see no other way. Sophia resists at first, because she wants to spend her life with her girlfriend Erin.
Sophia ultimately attends the ball to protect her family. She witnesses the leering men and the open abuse of a friend and decides to escape. She finds herself at Cinderella’s tomb, where she meets Constance, a descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. Sophia learns how the royal patriarchy falsified the original Cinderella story to enable the oppression of women and queer erasure. Sophia and Constance plot to expose the truth and smash the patriarchy.
This re-imagined fairy tale centers queer Black women. Rather than remixing a few elements, author Kalynn Bayron dismantles the entire legend and creates a completely new story. She skillfully describes how different people throughout the society respond to the rules and regimentation. The characters are well crafted and have clear motivation. The plot moves at a good pace and serves up a few twists. The story is both political and magical, effectively showing how oppression of women negatively affects all people.
Find Cinderella Is Dead at your local bookstore.