Cinderella Is Dead: Green Frog Reviews

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is a bestselling debut featuring an LGBTQIA+ cast, a badass feminist heroine, and the will to burn down the patriarchy!

If you love fairytale retellings with unique twists and compelling social commentary, and/or if you want to experience one of the coolest fairy godmother takes I’ve ever seen, check out this enchanting debut!


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 spent most of this book either filled with appropriate rage at the violent sexism our heroine, Sophia, had to endure, or grinning from ear to ear at the super cute romance building between two remarkable young women.

No matter the emotion I was feeling at any given time, this book remained, from beginning to end, a page-turning adventure filled with scenes that horrified me to the core, or made me jump for joy.

First off, let’s discuss the cruel, odious kingdom of Mersailles, ruled by a vile king who will fill you with righteous hatred. Bayron did a fantastic job of making me feel how dangerous, unjust, and suffocating Mersailles was for women, and anyone who couldn’t afford to play along with the king’s every pretentious whim.

In Mersailles, the best a young woman could hope for in life is to be chosen (no consent necessary) by a “decent” man who will allow her to live comfortably. Doing this requires extremely expensive finery and posturing at the Annual Ball, along with the expectation that every young woman will dedicate herself to resembling the picture-perfect icon of style and femininity–Cinderella–in every way.

All of the above disgusted me, making it easy for me to root for Sophia Grimmins, the book’s non-conforming, kickass heroine who knows she’s worth far more than the sexist breadcrumbs society offers. Not only did I agree with her feminist, empowering rebellion, but I also loved her fire.

After all, not everyone looks at injustice and vows to change things. Sophia honors what’s right and fair, and possesses the fearless ability to see and speak the truth no matter who tries to convince her otherwise. She is courageous and unapologetically dedicated to changing the world for women everywhere.

In addition to everything above, I really appreciated the deeper questions Cinderella is Dead encourages us to ask about social constructs created by self-serving men in power–especially with regards to women.

Questions like: how to stop pursuing a toxic relationship; how internalized homophobia is put inside us by those who are supposed to protect us; why women with power are exploited to serve the patriarchy; how much it hurts to know that, to some people you love, you will never be important enough to fight for; who writes the “rules” women live by, or use to determine their worth; the ways toxic masculinity is learned and what that does to young boys; how power systems are kept in place by those who are abused by them; why it’s imperative that we never silence any voices, especially those belonging to women.

And, most importantly, Cinderella is Dead powerfully teaches that the necessary sacrifices of all are required to make a world go from “palace approved” to “people approved.” We must all bravely shine our light.

Final Thoughts:

This book makes me want to throw back my head and scream “Down with the patriarchy!” at the top of my lungs.

Many of the systemic issues of misogyny and homophobia in Mersailles are cut from the same cloth as social issues here in the real world, making the commentary Bayron instills into her debut both stirring and important.

As such, Cinderella is Dead is a must-read addition to fairytale retellings and the literature of YA.

You can keep up with Kalynn Bayron here:


Twitter: @KalynnBayron

Instagram: @kalynnbayron

Be sure to check out Bayron’s This Poison Heart duology!

I also recommend picking up A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney and Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page for more unforgettable retellings of fairytales that turn everything on its head.

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