Release Date: July 7, 2020
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 finished this fantastic book in 2 days and I am very sad to have finished it, but very happy to have experienced it. Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for sending me an e-galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.
The Story and the Setting
The story-telling in this book was beyond good. Kalynn Bayron was truly given a gift and she used it to give us a different kind of fairy tale. The world that the main character, Sophia, grows up is one that can be all too familiar for some women. Men are head of household and make all the decisions and women have almost no say at all. And this all originates from the story of Cinderella and her Prince Charming. I never would have thought that there could be such a different version of this story, but Bayron has managed to surprise me at every turn. With each chapter you learn more and more about what happened to Cinderella and realize just how bad the city of Lille is. The world-building was really well done and nicely paced throughout the story and It was very easy to get a feel of how the lands laws shaped each of the characters. I thought that the story was extremely original and I loved that it set during a time where magic and fairy tales are real.
I don’t get to read about queer black girls very often, but after finishing this I realize I need to make it my mission to find more of these stories. Sophia being in love with a woman gives her a drive throughout the story that made me wish very much for her success in her task. My heart really ached for her when she just wanted to live in a world where she could be herself and not be someone’s property. By the end of her story she is truly ready to die for this and I admire her so much for that. Bayron does a great job of making the romance in this book organic and beautiful. It makes you agree with Sophia that this is something that should be fought for.
I truly did not want this story to end. While the ending was wrapped up very nicely, I still long for a book 2 and to continue Sophia’s story. She was just everything I wanted to be when I grew up and I very much see myself reading this book to my future children. The ending of this book was full of hope and a promise of a better future for the people of Lille.
Read this book. If you have ever felt like you couldn’t be yourself for fear of disappointing someone, read this book. If you have ever wanted a strong, queer black woman to be a main character in a fantasy novel, read this book. And if you love romance that seems to come so easily to some characters, read this book. I truly, truly loved this book and could not put it down. It is important that stories like these are told, not just for us but for future generations as well.