“The palace underestimates the resourcefulness of women forced into a dark and dangerous place.”

We all know the story of Cinderella, but what if the story we’ve learned is only just the beginning?

In the new release Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron, Cinderella’s death 200 years prior has led to a patriarchal and ruthless society ruled by men, where women are nothing more than prizes to be claimed at the annual ball.

Our heroine, Sophia, wants nothing to do with the barbaric tradition young women are forced into. She doesn’t want to attend the ball, she doesn’t want a husband, and she doesn’t want to live the life her parents and her king tell her she must. She only dreams of escaping with (and marrying) her best friend, Erin, and living as her true self.

This exciting new YA fantasy novel dives headfirst into a society that only looks like a fairytale on the surface. A quick and fun read, it was a joy to follow its heroine – a young, queer, Black girl – on her quest to set things right.

As a lesbian, I’m constantly on the lookout for books that incorporate my two favorite things – magic and LGBT characters. The story will intrigue you with its whispers of fantasy and mystery, and the colorful pictures Bayron weaves of the settings, dresses, and balls. If you’re like me, it leaves you wistful for something, nostalgic for the imagination of childhood when anything was possible. But it takes it a step further, because the world in which Sophia lives is anything but perfect. Women have no voice and no power, and even the mention of love outside the confines of a man and woman is punishable with violence. Our beautiful 16 year old Sophia knows she’s different, has known it since she was a child, and dreams of a way to escape the vicious cycle. Sophia isn’t just a fairytale character, she’s a feminist – an apt role model for all of us in our current world.

As Sophia traverses the dangerous terrain of a society where men are all-powerful, I was reminded harshly of our own society. I couldn’t help but think while reading, “What an incredible main character that young girls can emulate.” Sophia questions things, speaks her mind, and fights back against injustice. I wish I had read a book like this as a teenager or young adult. It has the makings of the books I always sought out, and would read over and over, but has the distinct difference of putting LGBT love in the forefront.

Author Kalynn Bayron

Anyone who enjoys fantasy, fairy tales, or badass heroines will love this book. In fact, my only criticism comes from my gay heart wanting WLW scenes to span the entire novel – there were moments I wished Bayron would have lingered, or dove deeper, but it never made me want to put it down.  I devoured it in a day, and I think readers (like me!) will be left excited for whatever Bayron publishes next.

Rachel is a 30 something pediatric nurse currently living in South Carolina with her future wife. Check out what she’s reading over on Instagram at @lesbereaders.

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