“I think sometimes we make the mistake of thinking monsters are abhorrent aberrations, lurking in the darkest recesses, when the truth is far more disturbing. The most monstrous men are those who sit in plain sight, daring you to challenge them.”
“I was twelve when I told my parents that I would much rather find a princess than a prince. They had gone into a state of panic, from which they emerged with a renewed sense of determination. They told me that in order to survive I would have to hide how I felt. I was never very good at it, and the weight of that mask grows heavier with each passing year. I want nothing more than to cast it aside.”
Cinderella is Dead honestly caught my attention from the cover and title alone, which is where my downfall frequently occurs. I was so eager to start this book, mainly because A. It had a black female heroine. B. It was gay. C. It was a fantasy! Those three things alone are enough to capture my attention for a book, so I was hooked. However, this book did not live up to the expectations I built up in my mind. Which is a shame because the plot had so much potential. This book tells the tale of Cinderella’s world two hundred years after her death. It depicts how the idea of her shaped the lives of every woman in her town. However, this was not for the better. The leading character, Sophia, is introduced two days before a mandatory ball in which requires every eligible woman of sixteen and older to attend to secure husbands. The King of their realm gives each young woman three chances to attend and be married off. Failure to land a husband for the first or second time causes shame to the girl and her family. Those with too much shame or who cannot land a husband are essentially turned into servants. Sophia has many reasons for not wanting to attend this ball or to find a husband, the main is because she is in love with her best friend Erin. They have to keep their love a secret, and Sophia is the only one willing to do something about it. This tale shows her journey of overthrowing her King and the cage-like rules that have held the women in her town captive to men.
I hate this book, let us just get that out of the way. I genuinely wanted to like it and even forced myself to complete the book hoping it might get better. It did nothing but continuously exceed my dislike for it. I said the plot showed potential because it did. A lesbian living in a fantasy world where her sexual preference is not allowed. That sounds amazing, especially when you include the magic. Sadly, the plot fell flat and had too many plot holes to count. Not even that, I figured out the plot before I even got near the end. I don’t know if I was just super-intelligent that day or if it was completely predictable. I equally didn’t enjoy the depiction of men; it felt very hateful, and I was incapable of enjoying it. I know this didn’t explain much, so I’ll go further into each topic.
As a bisexual woman, merely reading this book offended me on behalf of men. The book often appears as a way to specifically and personally bash men. I felt so uncomfortable reading it because it gives off this idea that all men are terrible. That they will seize the chance to hurt women if they can get away with it. Every man in this book was awful, save the one gay character. I’m uncertain if the author went through something terrible, but this perception of men seemed unfair and disturbing. I’m not suggesting she needed to fall in love with a man, but do they all have to be assholes just because they have a paynus and like women? It took me out of the story with how unrealistically mean every man she encountered was. I’ll leave it at that; it is something you have to read for yourself.
The plot at the start of the book sounded great, even though I began to dislike the main character within the first chapter. The book really sold me, but ever-so-slowly things just went bat shit crazy. The plot went from something interesting like overthrowing the king to having a confusing and never fully explained use of magic. It surrounded much of the entire book, despite it not being explained. The ‘bad guy’ in this book was so bland, he had no legitimate purpose for the immoral things he did. He was just evil to be evil, and there were no layers to his personality. The majority of every character in this book was one-note, save one character who I absolutely loved. The Fairy Godmother was the best character in the book, even though she too fell flat at the end. I enjoyed the idea of a dark fairy godmother; it was the change I never knew I needed! Aside from all of that, the book overall just felt disorganized. New things and characters kept popping up throughout the book with little to no explanation or aid to the plot. Things happened and there was no conclusion to any of it by the time the book ended. For example, Sophia goes on this entire journey because she does not want to marry a man. She wants her friend, Erin, but we never find out if they get together or if she moves on to the new girl. Also, we never found out what happened to her gay male friend. There were too many unanswered questions for this to be a standalone book.
The main character was selfish, ignorant, and overall dull in every way imaginable. From the first chapter, I disliked her constant need to selfishly put her feelings and wants above everyone else despite claiming she loved them. She constantly risked the lives of those she cared for the most and then took offense when they were upset about it. After the world is described to us, poorly I might add, she purposely says and does things that will get her friends in trouble. I never understand how authors describe that fire is hot and then immediately have their characters touch the fire. I agree she shouldn’t have settled with an unhappy life, but there are places and times to do things. It was her fault they beheaded the seamstress. She knew that interfering with the husband would bring consequences down on that family, but she did it anyway. Just like she knew that getting her gay friend on the dangerous side of an influential family would get him in trouble. Yet, she did it anyway. Her actions were not smart or done with care for those in her heart. She caused so many unfortunate situations for characters in this book and never once apologized or acknowledged her actions. If she was at least an intriguing character, I may have tolerated it. She isn’t and judges everyone and everything without stopping to consider their side. She has no hobby, skills, quirks, or a special personality that makes her unique or even entertaining. The story would have been a hundred times more enjoyable without her.
I regret receiving this book from NetGalley because I hate giving bad reviews. I honestly could find nothing redeeming enough to rate this book higher. Though I would read more from the author, I feel like the feedback might make her following book amazing. She had all the pieces she required, they just didn’t fit together in my opinion. Additionally, while I did not like the book, I did enjoy her eloquent writing. So I am curious to see what she does next. I hope this review aided you!