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Cinderella is Dead: 09/21/20
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron is a retelling of Cinderella. It reads like a blend of Ash by Malinda Lo (2009) and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (2020).
Kalynn Bayron imagines a kingdom that has built its entire culture and laws around the ball where Cinderella won the heart of Prince Charming. But it's an oppressive one, fixated on a strict gender binary. The king is all powerful and everyone else, save for a few elite families, can't leave.
It's been two hundred years under this system and sixteen year old Sophia wants something different. She's in love with Erin. The man who has offered her a way out, is gay. When he is taken away in the middle of the annual ball by palace guards, Sophia knows she has to save herself.
Tucked into this retelling is a critical examination of gender politics, toxic masculinity, racism, among others. That said, Sophia's skin color isn't used as a teachable moment. Sophia is a fully realized character with a family, a history, likes and dislikes.
Sophia goes off script and in the process meets a young woman who has the skills to help bring down the king and end the ball for good. Her journey to becoming the hero her kingdom needs. This journey is on the road narrative spectrum.
Sophia and Constance travel together to find the information to save their city. It's clear early on that there is a sexual tension, attraction between the two. They are traveling as a couple (33).
The destination is the White Woods. It's a place specifically off limits. It's a place that features heavily in the Cinderella story. In terms of the road narrative spectrum, this destination is the wildlands (99).
Their route is offroad (66). There is a path but it is heavily guarded and patrolled. As they have rejected society and will be imprisoned and killed. They can't take the road.
All together Cinderella is Dead can be summarized as a couple traveling to the wildlands via an offroad route to save the kingdom (339966).