Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Expected Publication: August 25th, 2015 by Clarion Books
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion.
Huge thanks to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this tour!
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.
Nicolette, of course, has lost her mother and lives as a servant to her step family by day. By night, she explores her mother's old workshop, where tiny mechanical creatures have come to life. She learns from her mother's journals and books and designs. She plans to enter the Exposition to show of her designs and gain a sponsor, earn real money, so she can finally escape from the Steps.
We spend a lot of time in Nicolette's head, so if you don't like her, it might be quite hard to enjoy the book. But I did like her - she was quietly fierce, incredibly determined, and aching for her mother. I also loved her attachment to the mechanical creatures - also known as "buzzers" - who would help her with the mountain of chores the Steps assign her every day.
"I wondered if Mother would ever stop dying, if she'd ever leave me for the last time. It didn't feel that way."As I said, we spend a lot of time in Nicolette's head with just her narration. There's not a whole lot of dialogue compared to a lot of other YA, and I think that if you need intense and fast-paced plots in your reading, this isn't for you. Mechanica is more of a character-driven story, I'd say. And while I do enjoy the intense and heart-pounding reads, it's always nice to have a break. Nicolette grows throughout the novel, particularly in the romance department. She realizes that her dreams are not reality, and that's okay, because she still has real friends, for the first time in her life. That she doesn't need a Prince Charming to come and sweep her off her feet and fix all her problems - she can do that herself.
Honestly, though, my favorite part about Mechanica is that it feels like a fairytale, more than any other book I've ever read. The writing just immerses you in this world of magical mechanical creatures with such a rich history with Faerie, an incredible exposition of all kinds of inventions, even (of course) a ball. And the whole fairytale vibe it gave off just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
tl;dr: Mechanica is an absolutely wonderful Cinderella adaption. The writing brings the world to life, the world-building is incredibly well-done, and I feel like it's a slow and heartwarming tale of a girl learning to really be herself and do what she loves. (Even though she's a woman and most people don't think woman can invent!) 4 stars.
Hi! I'm Betsy Cornwell, an American writer and teacher living in a stove-heated cottage in west Ireland, together with my horse trainer spouse, a small herd of dairy goats, and an increasing number of other animals. I write fiction and nonfiction and blog about Irish folklore, travel, wild food, goats (of course!), homesteading, and growing up.
Find her on the web:
And, of course, the publishers are kind enough to offer a giveaway!
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