Author: Kalynn Bayron
Fiction > Young Adult > Fantasy
Fiction > Young Adult > LGBTQA+
Fiction > Young Adult > Romance
Expected Publication: July 7th 2020 by Bloomsbury YA
Format Read In: Ebook
Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)
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.
My Review [MILD SPOILERS AHEAD]
Trigger warning: sexism, domestic violence, internalized homophobia, homophobia, sexual molestation, use of a love potion, threats of violence
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley. Thank you to the author and publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was really intrigued about a kind of Cinderella retelling much like Stepsister, where we come to the story after the main story has already happened. In this case, 200 years afterwards, with a queer Black woman leading. In terms of covers, I really like the UK edition a lot better than the US:
The art style is more my jam.
What I Liked
- The writing was well-done, although the pacing was a bit off from time to time. It was atmospheric and felt like a fairy tale.
- I thought the twists introduced to the original Cinderella tale were really interesting! I’d love to read a prequel.
What I Didn’t Like
- I don’t think I ever really came to understand Sophia as a character. I could kind of get why she was so rebellious but it was to a point where I wondered why she couldn’t grasp the severity of being so rebellious. She knows how people are treated when they go against the king, and will often be judgemental of those around her who are trying to play it safe. She pushed Erin a lot, so it’s no wonder Erin scurried away from her, terrified for her life. And she expects people to fight back when, after 200 years, there’s been no proof that the system can be changed. She’s a selfish character who doesn’t seem to recognize the damage she could do to others when she’s outspoken, and often makes foolish mistakes in the story.
- Constance, the love interest, was about as interesting as cardboard, which of course translated to a real lack of chemistry between her and Sophia. Their flirting, sometimes at inappropriate times, became really grating as time went on. It was basically insta-attraction and then very shortly after, insta-love. I don’t care for these tropes.
- The rest of the characters were really bland, overall. I couldn’t even root for a side character.
- The world was so very blatantly patriarchal, it became really cringey to read, and the king himself was just blatantly, cartoonishly horrible. At some point, I stopped caring if they managed to defeat him.
- As I alluded to before, the pacing was weird, and the story began to really drag for me. It was really predictable and basically, once I figured it out, I got bored waiting for the protagonists to figure out the truth, too.
- The thing that most irritated me was how villanized Erin was. She has feelings for Sophia, but because of what she’s seeing around her and being told straight to her face by her parents that if she doesn’t follow the rules, she’ll be disowned, it’s no wonder she pushes away from Sophia’s rebellious nature and tries to follow the rules. And yet, she’s basically called a coward for her actions, and I hate that self-preservation is treated like a coward’s way out. I also hate this trope where one queer character is angry at another for not being out–in this case, for not fighting to be with Sophia. Plus, Erin becomes a battered woman for no other reason, that I can see, other than to drive Sophia’s story and that really pissed me off. She lashes out at Sophia at one point, and all Sophia can think about is that her heart is breaking–not that Erin is being beaten by her husband. Then she’s not even given a mention at the end. The treatment of Erin was really disheartening, and left a sour taste.
Unfortunately, there was very little that I ended up liking about this book, and no one is more disappointed than I am. I was ready to hype this book, but I guess it just wasn’t for me.
My Rating: 2/5