Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
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 turned her into a servant in her own home.
But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.
Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.
I'm actually pretty surprised by the lower ratings for this book, but I guess this is the type of book that will win some people over and be a loss for others. You definitely have to like the story of Cinderella and steampunk elements in order to enjoy this one. That being said, I greatly enjoyed this refreshing retelling of Cinderella. It wasn't anything new (it's very similar to the Disney version of Cinderella with a few deviations and steampunk), but I think that's what I enjoyed about it. It read like a classic fairy-tale, and while Ms. Cornwell could have gone off and created a whole new world, I liked that she stuck true to the original story. She added just enough steampunk that fans of the genre would enjoy the story, but it wasn't overwhelming that it distracted from the story. Overall, this can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone, and I think it's worth checking out.
The story follows Nicolette, or Nick for short. She is following in her mother's footsteps and is a mechanic, making mechanical animals and gadgets with the aid of magic. Nick, who is later nicknamed Mechanica by her stepsisters, is forced to endure their cruelty, with only the friendship of her mechanical creations to keep her company, that is until 2 unlikely friends enter her life. I think you can guess the rest of the story (or can you?) There are some twists in the story, and I did enjoy the ending, which featured a very drastic deviation from the classic story. Nick was a great main character. She was strong and didn't let her stepsisters or stepmother get her down. Nick kept going and never gave up. She had her goals, and I liked that she stuck to them. I loved all of her mechanical friends, but Jules was my absolute favorite. I would love to have a Jules of my own! I think Nick's relationship with every character in this book was great and Ms. Cornwell wrote these relationships very well.
I don't want to spoil anything with the romance in this book, but while some people didn't like this part of the book, I found it very refreshing and I greatly enjoyed it. I think it took guts to do what Ms. Cornwell did, and it was a risk that paid off in my opinion. It gave the story a more realistic feeling, at least to me.
I won't lie, there were some slow parts, and the book could have done without them. But, this was still a great story that is a quick read. For the right person, a Steampunk Cinderella will be the perfect fit. If you're intrigued by the concept, check this one out. I really enjoyed it, and would highly recommend it!
Happy reading :)