Review by Booklist Review
In the town of Lille, "Cinderella" is not just a romantic fairy tale, it is the foundational story that undergirds the very culture and law of the land of Mersailles. Despite the grandeur of the ball custom, where annually girls of age are chosen by their own Prince Charmings, in reality it's nothing more than a ploy that renders its women vulnerable--especially those not chosen. So, when 16-year-old Sophia's invitation to the ball finally arrives, she is determined more than ever to follow her heart and flee from the restraints of King Manford's rule--even if that means leaving her family and best friend (and lover), Erin, behind. With the help of Constance, a descendant of Cinderella's stepsister, and Amina, Cinderella's supposed fairy godmother, Sophia attempts the impossible: dismantling a broken kingdom and taking down Manford once and for all. Flipping the Cinderella tale on its head, Bayron's take challenges patriarchy with kick-butt heroines and a counter-story that will forever change how readers perceive fairy tales. Though Sophia's bravery and cunning alongside her stereotype-shattering Black girl beauty will have readers rooting for her, the steady dose of unanticipated events, alliances, and realizations will have them asking, "Can she actually do this?" A fast-paced read, this title will challenge readers' conceptions on many fronts, garnering wide attention by way of our shared experiences of the Cinderella trope.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Two hundred years after Cinderella's death, the kingdom of Mersailles is a totalitarian patriarchy: women have no rights and live with children under a strict curfew, while young women must present themselves to prospective suitors at the annual ball. Those who aren't selected in three years--married by 18--are considered forfeit and destined for lives of servitude; some vanish altogether. In the city of Lille, headstrong Sophia Grimmins, 16, wants nothing to do with marriage--unless it's to her girlfriend, Erin. But while Erin succumbs to fear and social pressure, Sophia refuses to yield, fleeing the ball. On the run, she encounters beautiful Constance, a descendant of Cinderella's vilified stepsister Gabrielle, who knows the truth behind the official legend. Determined to overthrow the corrupt system, the two decide to trace the rumors behind another storied figure: Cinderella's fairy godmother. While the budding relationship between Sophia and Constance fulfills an emotional component, logistical failings and a hasty conclusion weaken the novel. Even so, Bayron's deconstructive reimagining of the classic fairy tale is ambitious, replacing the happily-ever-after with a tragic legacy and a defiant, feminist tone. Ages 13--up. Agent: Jamie Vankirk, Rainbow Nerds Literary. (July)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
In Mersailles, "Cinderella" is more than just a fairy tale: It's the basis for a harsh monarch's throttlehold on his kingdom. Sophia is turning 16, the age at which young women must attend King Manford's annual ball, at which they are scrutinized by and married off to male attendees. Any young woman who has not been claimed after her third ball is destined to spend the rest of her days engaged in hard labor. But being chosen can be its own curse in a society where domestic violence is common. Sophia is a beautiful Black girl in love with dark-haired Erin, one of her best friends. While racial diversity is a natural part of this world, the same acceptance does not exist for those who defy rigid gender norms: Anything other than heterosexual desire is strictly forbidden, and while Sophia wishes to escape as a couple, Erin is too fearful. After fleeing the ball, Sophia stumbles across Cinderella's mausoleum, hidden in the woods. There she meets rebellious Constance, an attractive young red-haired woman with a very personal motivation for sabotaging the monarchy. As the two grew closer--and sparks fly--they discover secrets that could end Manford's cruel reign. This promising debut deals with themes around rebellion and empowerment as well as the toll that rejecting the status quo can take on relationships. The atmospheric setting is a particular strength, and the twists and turns will keep readers in suspense. Will both entertain and encourage reflection. (Fantasy. 12-16) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.