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Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Title: Mechanica
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Published By: Clarion Books
Source: Digital ARC from publisher
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, Steampunk, YA
Rating: 4 out of 5

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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 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 without 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 there 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 without a doubt one of favorites.

**Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to review a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my view of the book.**

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