The Queer Book Review: A Fairytale Where the Women Share Love's True Kiss

A fairytale with no prince charming but a beautiful woman with fawnskin, definitely not the meaning the urban dictionary has, which seems to glow and one who carries a dagger and wears pants, obviously an intriguing woman in a world of balls (as in dancing events) and gowns. This was not the only stereotype broken, our sapphic protagonist is not at all a damsel in distress but more strong-willed and passionate. The book is a very different retelling of Cinderella not only in the inclusion of sapphic affection but very shockingly Cinderella is dead, not even a character, for the most part. There is also no happy ever after for Cinderella, in fact, it's basically a passive and occasionally violent hell for the women in the book. Oh! And prince charming is a douche! Besides, do you guys really believe the guy who got Cinderella was actually named Prince Charming? First name Prince, second name Charming?  

Anyway, back to the book. Our protagonist is named Cinderella...kidding...that woman is dead in this book...very dead. The lady is named Sophia and she is days away from attending the mandatory ball in which all women aged 18 are expected to show up looking pretty and stand around and dance as men, both rich and peasant get to choose which woman they get to take home as wife to possess and command till death do they part(death can also be arranged by the man). The author has set the book in a world where the story of Cinderella that most of us know is the religion. And honestly, that doesn't sound so bad, right? BZZZZ!!! The religion of Cinderella teaches that young women are to await their time to attend the ball fervently so as to fulfill their one purpose in life, to get married and serve and "love" their husbands forever. This world literally just scraps every right a woman could have. They can't even wear pants or have money. And if you don't get chosen for marriage, you get placed on a farm to work for the rest of your life, and the money you earn is sent back to your father, so you get nothing. So if you're wondering whether lesbianism is allowed, you must really be an optimistic person. This book is basically how I imagine my country was like 70 years ago but with ZERO respect given to women. I mean Kenya doesn't have the best track record in freedoms and rights for women but the traditional society did teach respect toward women. So the world's theme is toxic masculinity. Sophia doesn't agree with this worldview and basically refuses to conform and on the night of the ball, the girl bolts out of there. Now, her strong will is probably an admirable trait but wholly, I do not like her. This book does not feel like a fairytale but her character is sometimes a bit too unrealistic. What bothers me the most is the fact that Sophia expects everyone to freely accept that she is different and she expects no challenge in this. Sophia expresses a deep disappointment towards her parents for not siding with her when she tells them she doesn't want to attend the ball. I know, a parent's love is eternal and they should love their daughter unconditionally and support her. But it is unrealistic to expect your parents to get themselves killed. Now I'm not saying that they should have forced her to get married but they did accept her sexuality and hide her when the guards came knocking. I live in a country where homosexuality is punishable with a 14-year sentence and I know my parents are not open to it so when I tell them and they decide they can accept me, that will be enough. So I do not understand what Sophia expected of her parents. 

Sophia meets Constance, her princess charming, and embarks on a journey of discovery. Not only of what true love feels like but the discovery of her country's true history and the true story of Cinderella and Prince Charming. The journey brings them perilously close to death but they both evade it because the villain decides to give the "This Is How I do It" speech. In the end, the two manage to take control of their country and lead it into an age where women have basic rights. So yes, it is a fairytale. From a realistic point of view, a system so well-built for misogyny that internalized misogyny expressed by women was the norm could not have fallen as easily. But I enjoyed the happy ending because sapphic media representation is severely devoid of happy endings for the couples so I'll take it.

What did I think about the book? The writing was good, the world development was so good that I have to deny the happy ending with a world built like that. The story itself was intriguing and breaks down a popular fairytale so well I'm inclined to take the writer's narration as the original one. The characters I do not like as much but only because I wish they were more realistic with their expectations and I even consider myself an idealist. Give the book a read, it won't be a waste of time just a good use of a few hours.

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