by Betsy Cornwell


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A New York Times Bestseller

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547927718
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 08/25/2015
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,208,169
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Betsy Cornwell is the author of Tides, a YA novel inspired by selkie mythology. She graduated from Smith College and was a columnist and editor at Teen Ink before pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Notre Dame, where she also taught fiction writing. She lives in Ireland. Visit her website at

Read an Excerpt


Take the key from behind your grandmother’s portrait. I am certain your father still keeps it in the foyer—no one will have touched it in years, I hope. But you, darling, will be able to find the key.
Walk to the end of the hall and open the cellar door. It has no lock; do not fear closing it behind you. Go inside.
Be careful when you walk down the stairs; the wood is weak and treacherous. Bring a candle. The cellar is very dark.
At the bottom of the stairs, turn left. An old writing desk lurks there in the shadows. Push it aside. No doubt you’ve grown up a good strong girl and won’t need help.
Look: there is a door in the wall.
You won’t see a keyhole, but run a finger over the place where one would be. I know no daughter of mine will mind the dust.
Twist the key into the keyhole. You might need to worry it a little.
There, darling. You’ve found it. Use it well.

My mother was wrong about one thing: the cellar door did have a lock. Stepmother had locked me inside enough times for me to know.
She was right about everything else. I was plenty strong enough to push aside the writing desk; I only cursed myself for never having done so before.
Of course, I’d thought Mother’s workshop was long since destroyed. I’d seen the fire myself.
Besides, that desk had been my dearest friend. The first time Stepmother locked me in the cellar, a forgotten stack of brown and brittle paper in its top drawer and a cracked quill and green ink bottle underneath provided me with hours of amusement. I drew improbable flying machines and mechanized carriages; I drew scandalous, shoulder-baring gowns with so many flounces and so much lace that their creation would have exhausted a dozen of the Steps’ best seamstresses.
Not that Stepmother hired seamstresses anymore. I provided her with much cheaper, if less cheerful, labor. I sewed all of their dresses, though my fingers were not small or nimble enough for the microscopic stitching she and my stepsisters required. I took care not to show how much I preferred fetching water and chopping wood to sewing. Stepmother considered “hard labor” the most punishing of my chores, so she assigned it often.
I never told her how those chores offered me precious, rare glimpses into my memories of Mother. I could see her face, covered in a subtle powdering of soot, laughing at my disapproving father as she carried an armload of wood or a sloshing pail of water down to the cellar. Until recently, those memories, and a few of her smallest inventions, were all I had of her.
I needed to hide her machines from Stepmother, of course: the whirling contraption that dusted cupboards for me, the suction seals that kept mice out of the drawers, the turn-crank in one closet that polished shoes. Mother had taught me enough to keep her machines in repair. When she was alive, she’d dreamed of my going to Esting City for a real apprenticeship, as she herself had always longed to do. But Father would never hear of it.
Anyway, neither of them was able to help decide my future anymore. Now that they were gone, all I knew was that I could not abandon their house to the Steps.
I digress. Father always told me not to worry over things that can’t be helped, but I never took his instructions to heart.
He died on New Year’s Eve, the year I was ten. I wept noisily over the dispatch letter that announced his death, smearing tears onto the sleeves of what I didn’t know would be my last new dress for years. Stepmother stood silent behind me.
He had taken his new wife, with her two mewling, puny daughters, only a few months earlier. I’d tried to befriend Piety and Chastity at first, to beguile them into joining me for a horseback ride, a walk, or even a simple game of boules on the lawn.
I tried talking about books with them too. They responded with glazed expressions and derisive giggles, and when I finally had the chance to look at the beautiful collection of leather-bound books Stepmother had bought them, I found the pages ripped out, and replaced with magazines and catalogs.
Then I knew for sure we’d never understand each other.
After Father died, the Steps grew so much worse. Within a day of his death, they ousted me from my lifelong bedroom, and I was too stunned with grief to argue. My room was next to my stepsisters’, and Stepmother said they needed the additional boudoir space. She liked everyone to think that she would never grant her daughters any excess, but in private she spoiled them as if they were the Heir’s famously beloved horses.
On the night after she dismissed our housekeeper, she told me to wash the supper dishes. Then—the only time I’ve done it—I did rebel. I screamed at her like a child, like the child I still was. My position in the family was all I had left to tie me to my parents’ love. Though I’d felt it slipping away, until that moment I had chosen denial.
Clearing my eyes of tears, I stared my stepmother down. She looked back at me. Though I had only seen coldness and distance in her face before, I saw something else then. I saw challenge. We both knew what she was doing: she was making me a servant. But I began to think she might be testing me, preparing me for some sacred rite of entrance into her true family. Making sure I was a good daughter.
So I nodded, and I looked down, and I retreated to the kitchen. When your heart is broken, it’s easier to follow rules.
I kept waiting, too, hoping I might pass her test. I carried that hope with me like a rosary, counting the worn beads each time she assigned me some yet more menial chore.
If it was ever a test, I must have failed.
Despite what she had reduced me to since Father’s death, though, I still could not believe Stepmother was entirely evil. Do not mistake me: she was cruel and sharp, and she spoiled her own children to a fault while denying me any scrap of affection. She took a hypocrite’s great pleasure in her own abstinence. She enjoyed denying herself more than she ever relished an indulgence. I could list her flaws for days.
But she gave me my mother’s letter. I didn’t know why she did, or why she didn’t read it first. Perhaps, I thought, it was because she loved her own daughters too much to disrespect another mother’s wishes; perhaps I would never know the reason.
It must have been Stepmother, I thought when I found the envelope slipped under my door one autumn morning.
for Nicolette
on her sixteenth birthday

She even gave it to me on the correct day.
Late that night, I crept through the hall to the portrait of Grandmother. She cut an imposing figure atop her huge black stallion, Jules. Mother’s family had long been famous for their hunt horses, and Jules was the greatest stallion they ever produced. There were even rumors that the blood of Fey horses ran in Jules’s veins—but if that was true, any records of it would have been destroyed after King Corsin’s quarantine on Faerie. No one would admit to the least association with the Fey anymore, not after a Fey assassin had killed the previous Heir.
Our country had to learn how to live without magic after that. We were still learning.
Still, with his long, powerful legs, streaming mane, and brightly gleaming coat, Jules looked as beautiful as Fey horses were said to be. Mother used to tell me that together, he and Grandmother could put the men to shame at the fox hunt—I always loved hearing that story.
No key hung on the wall when I took down the picture. Annoyed, I squinted at the letter again.
Take the key from behind your grandmother’s portrait.
I puzzled for a moment—then had to laugh at my own stupidity.
I dug a ragged fingernail into the paper at the back of the frame. It exploded in tiny brown fibers that blanketed my hand to the wrist and suffused the air with feathery antique dust. I grinned, feeling rough metal against my finger. I hooked my fingertip around the key and pulled it from the frame.
It was a skeleton key, quite large. The prongs on its shaft were many and complex.
I pocketed it quickly and rehung the portrait, feeling like the heroine in a twopenny storybook. Grandmother watched me from her gilded frame.
I kept near the wall as I walked to the cellar door. I could hear Piety’s snores and Chastity gibbering in her sleep. Stepmother slept even more deeply than they did. Still, I stayed silent as a huntress, creeping toward the secret I could sense just ahead of me. Any false move might wake the Steps and pull it out of my reach.
I double-checked the lock on the door and crept down the stairs. I held my candle high. I had chosen a plain kitchen candlestick—Stepmother would miss the scented beeswax. So it was by a crude and greasy light that I found my mother’s gift.
It was easy enough to push the desk aside; finding the door was harder. The flickering candlelight revealed nothing until I practically had my nose to the seam. I was covered in spider silk before I saw it.
But there it was, obscured behind seven years of grime . . . and something else. Something not quite a shadow—something I might have thought, before the quarantine, was magic. Dark, with a darker shine. But it vanished as I put out my finger to touch it, and I thought I must not have seen it at all.
I stepped back, relishing this last moment of mystery. I put a fair amount of force behind the key, expecting rust to have diminished its fit.
But it slipped in like a foot into a slipper, and I stumbled against the opening door.
A rattling overhead drew my attention. There were round, spiked shadows in the darkness of the ceiling, rotating at the same rate that the door was pulling open—being pulled. Inside the room, a hissing sound stopped and started in a heartbeat pattern.
I picked up my candle and entered.
The door swung shut behind me, as smoothly and quickly as it had opened. I didn’t feel trapped; I felt welcomed, wrapped in my mother’s love. I surveyed my inheritance with awe.
There were charts on the walls, mapping the inner mechanisms of a thousand wonders. There was a coal-powered loom, a sewing machine—thank goodness, I thought, my finger still stinging from the last time my needle had slipped—and an automated rocking chair and cradle. This last made my heart ache with loneliness for her and for my own childhood, but I could not stop to examine it further; I was too curious about her other designs. I was particularly drawn to an acidic rainbow of dyes painted into a line of circles, next to long notations of their formulas. I could smell the oil lubricating the gears that had swung open the door.
A bookshelf on the far side of the room completely covered the wall. It sagged into a smile under the weight of its leather-bound occupants. Stuck in amid the books, a desk sat draped with haphazard stacks of paper and half-finished diagrams. A pair of glass and leather goggles rested on top of one blank sheet, still dusted in soot. I recalled the pale rings around Mother’s eyes.
I jumped when the room’s thick silence broke. A small chest on a low shelf thunked once, and again, in a determined beat.
I sighed, relieved that no one had discovered me. But what lay in that dark box?
Years of unhappiness had made me fearless. I expected a family of rats, and when the thing in the chest scurried into shadows as I opened the lid, I assumed I was correct.
Then I heard the soft whirring of gears, and my nervousness dissolved into delight. I had found another of Mother’s creations.
I lowered my palm gently into the box. I found myself cooing and nickering to the thing inside, as if it were a shy cat.
“Come on, now,” I said quietly. “It’s all right. I won’t hurt you.” I turned my gaze politely away.
I felt a delicate nipping at my little finger and had to laugh at the sensation. Something rounded pressed against my palm, and I looked down.
A metal horse nuzzled my finger. No taller than my hand at the shoulder, he was the most delicate little toy I had ever seen . . . and yet more than a toy: he moved of his own volition, and the way he regarded me was more than lifelike—it was life itself.
He was made with too much care, too much precision, to be intended only as a plaything. His head and neck were copper gone a bit green, and his flanks were blown glass. Through them, I could see his clockwork musculature turning back and forth as he pranced beneath my fingers; there was even a tiny clock face that looked as if it had been taken from a small pocket watch. He had no mane, but a tail of silver chains that he flicked back and forth and lifted for balance when he moved. Etched into his right flank was the name Jules II. Subtle puffs of steam blew from his nostrils. When I stroked his belly, I felt the heat of some inner furnace.
The chest that held little Jules was, in fact, a sort of stable in miniature. There was a bottle of oil and a rag in one corner. A crinkle of green patina, his outline, blossomed in another; he had clearly lain dormant for years. How had he known to awaken? And what else could my entrance have aroused in my mother’s world of mechanical wonders?
I lifted Jules from his confinement and set him gently on the floor. He reared up on his steel haunches and looked at me pointedly. We regarded each other.
Then he set off at a canter toward the far corner of the room. I followed—though I paced him easily, of course, even when he broke into a jingling gallop. I felt as if I’d stumbled into Faerie.
Jules halted in front of yet another door, just as subtly set into the wall as the first had been. This one was wider, and streaked in places with dried grease.
I saw a smudged black handprint among the streaks. When I placed my own hand there, it matched exactly. I knew even before I pushed the door open that here was where Mother kept her workshop and the first room was simply a designer’s studio, a repository.
I opened the door, and more gears sprang to my aid. The hissing was louder in here, and the air was humid with steam.
Jules pranced eagerly at my feet, his metal hooves clacking against the stone floor. Before me lay a world of possibilities.

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Mechanica 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting twist on Cinderella. A pleasant read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun and easy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really wasnt expecting much, but loved it, lighthearted read, would recommend
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing version of the Cinderella Story. You have Nicolette, Nick as the steps call her, who wants to be an inventor. Her mother was an inventor who taught Nicolette many things before she died. When her father remarries shortly after her death, he brings home her step-mother and 2 step-sisters. They treat her horribly just like the fairy tale version we all know. There is also a prince or heir as he is referred to, he needs to find a wife. Besides that, that story is very different. The fey have been banished from the kingdom and magic has been outlawed. When she turns 16, a letter from her mother is slid under her door and she is able to find her mother's laboratory and do some inventing of her own. When the steps stumble upon some of her inventions, they nickname her Mechanica, thus the title of the book. Nick is trying to make enough money to get her own studio for her inventing. She meets two wonderful friends and she has her first friendships with other people. Nick is a strong female lead character and the story is more about friendship, than romance. The cover of this book is what initially drew me to it. The idea of a female inventor and scientist is certainly an area where society is trying to introduce more females, so it is certainly timely. I hope that middle school girls and even high school girls would pick this book up and see that there is so much more they can be than what has been expected of them for years. I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest reveiw.
Stacie More than 1 year ago
I love any kind of fairy tale retellings, especially Cinderella retellings and right off the bat this one caught my attention. It was everything I wanted and more. It was magical, wonderful, fun, and it followed along closely to the original fairy tale. As a matter of fact, I almost prefer this ending as opposed to the original because it was more realistic. The beginning started off with Nicholette, or as her Steps liked to call her, Nick. She was an orphan and now servant to her Stepmother and two daughters. Her mother died of a Faerie disease that was known to kill many people. Her father passed away from the faerie war shortly after he remarried. On her sixteenth birthday, she magically received a letter from her mother to open a hidden door. Behind the door is where her mother used to make mechanical objects. Nick has a knack for making little things too like a knitting machine, so this gave her an idea to make things and sell them at the market. That way she can make enough money to finally leave on her own. Along her journey she made two friends, one of which is a very handsome man. Will she follow her heart, or follow her dream to sell her own inventions? I really liked Nick from the start because she was a very independent, strong thinker. She knew she wanted to leave her Steps house, yet she couldn't because she wanted to be able to afford living on her own with out the help of anyone else. Though she grew up with some horrible people, Nick was still a very polite person. She was also very good at getting out of sticky situations. She was a smart and fast thinker. I also liked that she wasn't a gullible person. She did not trust everyone at will, and she did not let anyone persuade her to change her way of thinking. My other favorite part were the friendships she made. The first day Nick goes to sell her inventions, she meets two people, Caro and Fin. From the start they have an instant connection. Nick is a bit apprehensive at first, but they quickly form a special bond to an amazing friendship. I like how Caro is so free and open minded to just welcome a complete stranger. It just goes to show that not all people are evil. Fin was friendly too, but Nick had a bit of a crush on him. They connected in other ways others couldn't. My most favorite person though, or rather horse was Jules! He was her mechanical horse that her mother made, and her first friend. He was their to listen to her through all her troubles. I loved him! He was like a cuddly pet that you couldn't get enough of. He was her companion. Overall, I loved this story and really hope it continues. There are so many things that I would love explained or to read more about. I want to know more about the Faeries and if they're really bad. I want to know more about these mysterious ashes that Nick's mother kept. I also want to know more about Nick and her friends' journey. Their stories are certainly not over and I NEED to know what happens next. If you enjoy reading fairy tale retellings then I highly recommend this one. It was with out a doubt one of favorites.
S211n3 More than 1 year ago
I liked it! Especially the ending part. The ending added the extra star, cuz if it would have been opposite ah it would be... lets not get there cuz it didn't happened. I liked Mechanica/Nick/Nicolette, I became her fan by the end. But I adored Cora especially her advice in the end for Nick, absolutely true! Then the not happily ever after was cool! It was happy in its own terms not the cliché one. Then Jules my fav character! An other small creatures all around. The dash of magic in the story and how Nicolette was independent and she didn't need Fairy Godmother cuz she made everything possible for herself on her own. I liked that concept. If this book have sequel to it then I'm looking forward for the book!I liked it and liked the new concept of story.
Knevs More than 1 year ago
The perfect balance of a fairy tale and a steam inspired world that encourages self worth and feminism. Originally, I started reading to see if it was a decent choice for my nieces (ages 8-12) and came out thoroughly inspired and with a smile on my face. Nicolette reminded me of my teenage self and re sparked the hopes of always being an inventor. I enjoyed reading and seeing the unique twist on Cinderella.
CJListro More than 1 year ago
Read more: I can say without reservation or qualification that Mechanica is an absolute dream, the spiritual successor to Ella Enchanted that we've all been waiting for. You'll see it sardonically compared to Cinder on Goodreads. Yes, both are Cinderella retellings. Yes, both young women are skilled with machines. The similarities end there, except that they're both damn good books. Mechanica is the story of Nicolette, a lonely girl oppressed by her stepmother's cruelty and her kingdom's embargo on all things magical. One day, a lost letter leads her to her mother's workshop, where she made her famous mechanical wonders before dying of a magic-borne disease. Her love of machinery rekindled, Nicolette soon makes a secret name for herself by inventing clever machines and beautiful baubles. Her inventions could buy her freedom--but in the way are her vicious stepsiblings and a handsome prince she never anticipated. Written in a gorgeous storyteller's prose, Mechanica is a tale of hope, self-reliance, and friendship that at once applauds, modernizes, and subverts the cherished tale of Cinderella.
Sailon More than 1 year ago
Mechanica is a blending of a Cinderellish based story with a steampunk and feminist twist. Nicolette is orphaned and left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. They treat her as a servant, hence the Cinderellish I spoke of above. But even with all their cruelity, Nicolette thrives in her ability with mechanics and once she discovers her mother’s secret “workroom” she finds a way out of her desperate situation…by selling her creations. What I really appreciated about this story: Nicolette doesn’t want to be saved by a prince, she wants to save herself. Nicolette discovers and develops a strong female friendship. The potential for this plot was strong but it never truly climaxes. It was more like a daily, detailed journal telling of Nicolette’s independence with lots of side bars that never seem to go anywhere. I liked this story but in the end it was just that I liked it. 3.5 stars. I received this ARC copy of Mechanica from Clarion Books in exchange for a honest review.
BoundlessBookaholic More than 1 year ago
I did not finish this book at 10% because there was too much backstory and it wasn’t holding my interest. I was looking forward to reading this book because I love fairy tale retellings, so I was happy when Netgalley approved my request. But the book wasn’t entertaining me, so I had to put it down. I love backstory, but when there really isn’t much happening except flashbacks and descriptions for 30+ pages, it’s a little too much for even me. I wanted to see some action, to see some other characters besides the ones inside Nicolette’s memory. And I know her mother’s workshop is important, but I don’t think that much time should have been spent on it, especially right at the beginning of the book. Save some descriptions for later on. Another thing that I didn’t like was that there wasn’t even a mention of the “prince” Nicolette finds in the first 10%. Does he not show up until halfway through the book? Is he actually a prince? I like to at least see the love interest early on in the story, even if the romance is slow-burning. I love romance, so it’s a hard sell if romance is an afterthought, or not present, in a book. Final note: The book has an interesting premise, but it’s WAY too slow to hold my attention. The writing wasn’t that bad, so I might give it another try sometime.
layarose More than 1 year ago
Cinderella retellings these days just seem to be getting better and better! I especially love the steampunk aspect of Mechanica, as well as the faeries, because, well. I love faeries. (Though I would've loved to see more of the actual faeries/fae realm? sequel, maybe?? I loved the small details we got - like that most fey use the pronoun fe). Nicolette is an awesome, feminist protagonist, being a talented mechanic and inventor while not looking down upon femininity either. Also! Magical mechanical faery horse! I agree with some people who say that the book was a bit slow or 'nothing much happened', but I think that's something I liked about it? It's a story about a girl independently finding her way, and finding friends, and doesn't necessarily need massive conflicts and plot twists. (well, there was that one about Fin..which I totally called...) One of my favourite aspects of Mechanica was the focus on platonic love and love between friends. One of the main messages of this book is that all kinds of love are just as (if not more) important than romantic love. This is so, so important to me as an aromantic person. So many books (and all kinds of narrative) are so stiflingly amatonormative, which is so alienating for me.. seeing so many reviews of this book which seem to rate it badly because no-one ends up together, because "Cinderella doesn't marry her prince charming", makes me so sad... do people really require two main (generally f/m) characters to end up together for it to be 'satisfying'? And it's not like the book is void of romantic attraction or crushes..
NicoleMoy More than 1 year ago
"Love between friends could create life." - ARC of Mechanica Betsy Cornwell incorporates a classic fairytale about Cinderella with steampunk elements creating a wonderful and enchanting story about Nicolette Delacourt Lampton the inventor. The Faerie world and the humans once lived together peacefully but humans banned anything Fey related because some relationship complications. After Nicolette's mother passes away with a Faerie disease, Nicolette's father remarries Lady Halving. However, Nicolette's dad dies on New Year's Eve when she was only 10-years-old leaving Nicolette an orphan. Machines that she hide from Stepmother are the only things left she has from her mother besides her memories. Piety and Chastity, Mechanica's stepsisters are unfriendly even though Nicolette befriends them with kindness. On Nicolette's 16th birthday, her mother unveils how to find the secret workshop which is hidden from Stepmother, Piety and Chastity. Cornwell focuses on friendships and independence. I love reading about an independent girl who is strong. Nicolette thinks about what is best for her and will not have others pity her. She does not require a man to take care of her because she is capable of taking care of herself. She is fierce and a good role model for girls. I also enjoy reading about women who love science. Not many females dabble into science and especially more on the engineering side of the field. It's inspiring to see Nicolette and her mother embracing their love for tinkering with mechanisms and creating beautiful yet useful contraptions. Friendships throughout the novel are important. Building strong and healthy relationships are important. Nicolette meets Caro and Fin at the Marketplace and become good friends. Her greatest friend of all is Jules who keeps her company everyday at home. I absolutely fell in love with the cover when it was revealed. It's gorgeous and perfect for the book. What bothered me was when Piety and Chastity, also known as the Steps, rips pages out of the leather-bound books. It definitely made me cringe. The pacing of the story can be slow at time and is drawn out but I enjoyed the interactions of the characters. Overall, Mechanica is intricate Cinderella retelling full of magic and inspiration. However, there are certain areas I wish Cornwell went into more detail. I want to know more about the Fey magic that is used in the workshop, what happened to the orders that Nicolette has to fulfill and what are the Ashes. I also want to know more about the outcome of the Cultural Exposition Gala. Mechanica may not be a fast paced book but it is a novel to savor slowly. Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss for an honest opinion
brittanysbookrambles More than 1 year ago
1.5/5 Stars I went into this book with very low expectations because I have read a lot of retellings based on Cinderella and have yet to find one that I like (*hides from the Lunar Chronicles fans*). That being said, the beginning of the book initially grabbed my attention with Cornwell's pleasant writing style and with how close this particular retelling stays to the Disney movie version of Cinderella. Unfortunately, my enjoyment didn't last long. While Cornwell can generally write well, Mechanica barely includes any dialogue. For me, dialogue is crucial, so Mechanica lost big points because of this. In addition, this book is very predictable beyond what is expected in a fairytale retelling. I'm a huge notetaker when it comes to reading and reviewing books. When I finish reading a novel and have taken a lot of notes, this means that I either really loved the book or really hated it. For Mechanica, I only had one note from very early on in the novel in which I guessed what the book's big reveal would be (and I was right). For long periods of time, this book didn't seem to have any plot. I had to schlep through huge sections of Nicolette going about her daily life, which made me put the book down on more than one occasion because I was just so bored. Lastly, I really didn't like the ending. I love the idea of Cinderella—or in this case Mechanica—being her own woman and having her own goals and dreams that don't necessarily include Prince Charming. However in this case, I feel that it doesn't fit with the plot. Here's what happens: Mechanica is in love with Prince Charming, except he's in love with another girl. At the end of the book, the three of them are just kind of "together" . . . but, not really. It doesn't make a lot of sense, and it left me feeling extremely unsatisfied. Even though I'm rating this book very low, I don't hate it. In fact, I wouldn't be against reading another book by Cornwell because I think her writing style has a lot of potential. I can't say that I regret reading Mechanica, but I do wish that I had pushed it down farther on my TBR. Full Review:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell is a steampunk version of Cinderella. This book is about a girl named Nicolette (or Nick) whose mother is a brilliant inventor, and her dad sells her mother's inventions. Since her mom is always busy in her workshop and her dad is always selling her mom's inventions, Nick's family has a maid/ butler/ babysitter of sorts who is part Fey. Feys are magical creatures who come from a land beyond. Tensions start heating up between the Feys and Nick's homeland. People are saying the Fey's magic is evil. The queen of Nick's homeland comes down with Fey's croup and the only cure is lovesbane. The queen dies from a lethal overdose of lovesbane. After her death, the king cuts off all trade with the fey and deports them. Shortly after the queen's death, Nick's mom gets Fey's croup but lovesbane is now illegal and unavailable. Nick's mom succumbs to Fey's croup. Now the household income has dropped almost to nothing since Nick's dad sold his wife's inventions. Then Nick's dad remarries and Nick gets a stepmother and two stepsisters. Shortly after the marriage, a full out war with the Fey starts. Nick's dad becomes a casualty of the war. This leaves Nick all alone with no family except her stepmother and her two stepsisters. She becomes the family's servant and takes care of the house and her stepmother and her two stepsisters (the Steps). On her 16th birthday, she finds her mom's workshop. Nick now starts inventing and following in her mothers path. As the story goes on, Nick tries to find ways to create a life away from the Steps, have her own workshop and be self-sufficient in hopes of one one buying the house from the Steps. Nick finds a couple of friends along the way. Like all Cinderella stories, there is a ball and in this steampunk version, there is also a Grand Exposition where all the great inventors and artisans are invited to create a piece and showcase it. As the plot thickens, Nick discovers more and more about her mom's inventions, making new friends, finding her true self, and having to constantly risk everything. I highly enjoyed this steampunk take on Cinderella. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. This book varies from a lot of Cinderella stories since Nick is more independent than other lead Cinderella characters. If you liked Cinder or fractured fairy tales, put this book on your must read list. I received this book from Clarion Books through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago