Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Title: Mechanica
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: August 4, 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 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.

Okay, so first I would like to address something.  There is a lot of speculation about Mechanica and Cinder being very similar from the synopsis given.  These two books are nothing alike!  

At first, Mechanica seems like a very typical Cinderella story.  It follows how Nicolette lost both of her parents and came to be with the Steps.  On her sixteenth birthday, a magical letter is delivered under her doorstep and guides her to her inventor mother's old workshop.  Thus began Nick's dreams of being free of the Steps.

Mechanica is a beautifully written tale of independence and friendship.  Cornwell's depiction of Cinderella is a magical world in the beginnings of war.  The introduction of fey and relationship between the Nick and the prince make this unlike any other Cinderella story I have read or seen (and I have a lot of them).  The mechanical/magical buzzers were adorable.  And I could picture them just perfectly, each with its own personality (especially Jules).

After Nick finds her mother's workshop, she begins to concoct a plan to invent something for the Exposition.  She hopes to be free of the Steps for good.  The first time she enters the market to sell her wares she meets Caro and Fin, who quickly help and befriend her.  Throughout the book, their friendships are tested, but they always come back to each other.  And they always help each other as best they can.

The relationship between Nick's mother and father was so strained.  It seemed extremely real - constant fighting about politics, how to raise their child, etc.  They could be anyone's parents, not a fictional pair.  The political implications of the impending war between Esting and Faerie were very interesting to read about.  The prejudices against the fey are just one more thing that make Mechanica a realistic, fantastical read.

So what did I think? 
I loved Mechinca's version of Cinderella.  The relationships between Nick and Fin, Nick and Caro, Caro and Fin - they were very complex and wonderfully crafted.  It was particularly wonderful reading so much about Nick's mother and her inventions.

I loved that there was a political undertone to Mechanica.  So many Cinderella stories are simply love stories.

Overall, I really loved this book.  I certain I will read it over and over again.  I recommend it to fans of fairy tale retellings, fantasy, and anyone with a rebel heart. 

Note: I received a copy of this book for an honest review.


  1. Not sure if you want comments... but I'll be sure to read this one!

    1. I love comments! I don't always get a chance to reply, but I like seeing all the feedback. :)