I noticed this book in my local Waterstones, often when I just pop in to browse books. I adored the cover on this, and was intrigued by the title, but it would take me a few months before I’d actually buy it. I wasn’t entirely convinced by it, but I’m so glad I bought it because it totally changed my mind and I genuinely love it.
Once a girl reaches sixteen years old, she must attend a ball to be chosen, or risk the consequences. But Sophia has never been great at following the rules, so when the dreaded occasion happens, she escapes. A decision that will change her life, along with the rest of the kingdom, forever.
Holy shit! I didn’t expect that plot twist at the end! I’m so glad I stuck with it cos it is slow to begin with, but once it picks up, ooh boy! Absolutely brilliant. I love fairytale retellings, especially when they flip the story on its head the way this story did.
What I Liked:
- The plot twist – I didn’t expect it at all! I kinda thought the witch was up to something, but damn, I didn’t expect a Shrek 2 type twist!
- The twist on the original tale – I loved how they twisted the original fairytale on its head and made the characters have more depth to them
- The characters – the main character and the secondary characters were wonderful and complex, which I personally love in a character
What I Disliked:
- The slow beginning – honestly, it nearly turned me off the book because it just felt so slow, but I’m so glad I stuck with it
Characterisation: The characterisation is honestly impeccable. I love Sophia, who both stands up for what she believes in and won’t ever stop, but who also has compassion towards her dead friend, her ex-girlfriend, her new girlfriend and the witch they befriend. She’s a wonderfully nuanced character that I just love.
Constance (Sophia’s new girlfriend) is so much more than that. Like Sophia, she knows the truth and wants to fight for it at any cost, and given her upbringing, it makes sense that she’s more edgy and willing to go to extremes. But I love how soft and vulnerable she is towards Sophia. It’s what makes their relationship so great.
The witch (aka the fairy godmother) is certainly an interesting character. She begrudgingly helps Sophia and Constance, but she isn’t what she appears. That plot twist was very good at building her up to be one way and just immediately shattering the illusion.
Prince Charming was a two dimensional villain, but he seemed more as a plot point than a character. An obstacle Sophia had to defeat in order to be truly free from his reign. Although, this could just be sticking to the original tale in some sense since Prince Charming didn’t have much of a role to play then either. Still, turning all his good traits into their polar opposite was interesting, and made the story all the more exciting.
I love the twist on the original characters. I love how it’s implied the characters were all portrayed a certain way to fit in with Prince Charming’s retelling, rather than what they were actually like. It was beautifully done, and something I applaud Kalynn Bayron for.
Story Structure: The inciting incident takes a while to happen, and while I do understand why, I didn’t think we needed as much of the background information as we got. But the rest of the pacing and story structure was fantastic – the climax, the resolution, the ups and downs throughout. It all led to something, and had some wonderful foreshadowing scattered throughout.
Other Thoughts: The feminism undertone is handled so well. I love how Prince Charming was a metaphor for the patriarchy, and how once they defeated him the world was a fairer place to all. I love how Cinderella wasn’t some helpless woman, but instead someone willing to fight to end the patriarchy and reclaim her right as heir to the throne. Even the stepmother and stepsisters wanted the same thing as Cinderella – it was just so cool to see such an interesting take on Cinderella, but to also appreciate what could happen if oppression were to be destroyed. What that world could look like.
If you want a story featuring a complex main character defeating the patriarchy/oppression, an awesome retelling, a major plot twist and impeccable characters, then you’ll love this book. It’s honestly so good, and one of my favourites I’ve read this year so far (once I got past the slow beginning).