Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (Book #1)
Published: August 25th 2015 by Clarion Books
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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.
“A whole life could change, and change again, in the smallest fraction of forever.”
I have seen this book compared to Cinder by Marissa Meyer on multiple reviews. However, I just don’t see it. They are both Cinderella retellings, and they both deal with mechanics either by fixing items or building. But that about sums up the comparison. If I had to choose which book I enjoyed more, I would pick Cinder in a heart beat.
Mechanica did have a few great themes throughout the story. For one, it had a great strong female lead. Nicolette isn’t your typical Cinderella, she’s an inventor and a silent Fae sympathizer. She uses small magic that have been banned for a few years to help her do her chores, and she fixes any of the machines that breaks down. This book also has a strong friendship theme with a hint of feminism. Nick meets Fin and Caro her first day at the market to sell her wares so that she could become one step closer to leaving her house and step family. Majority of the book is then spent on how Caro and Nick’s friendship grow to where they feel like family and it includes a little romance subplot between Nick and Fin. Thankfully it wasn’t an insta-love type of situation.
I never expected much of anything to happen, and nothing much did. I was in a constant state of waiting for things to begin.
The quote above is basically how I felt the entire novel. We go through how Nicolette became Nick, her live as a servant for her family, brief mentions of Fae throughout, and then the ball at the end. Just your basic retelling, in the same order of events as the original. This book was super slow and as you can tell very predictable. There was hardly any conflicts and only a handful of scenes with the steps.
The only other aspect that I really liked about this book was that Nick stayed true to herself, and turned down the prince (this is where the hint of feminism comes into play). Nick knew that he didn’t love her and she was just in love with the idea of him. So instead of having the happily ever after ending, Nick chooses to continue to find a benefactor for her inventions. Although there was a moment when I thought she was going to say yes to his marriage proposal, and if that happened I was going to stop reading right then and there.
“I had rescued myself entirely.”
For a predictable book, this one was okay. This book really lacked a controversy for Nick to overcome. I mean, yes she overcomes her step family, but I felt like it needed more than that to make it stand out. The Fae are mentioned throughout, but it’s not very flushed out. I guess Cromwell is waiting for the second book to go into more detail on that aspect. So if you are one to really enjoy fairy tale retellings then you’ll more or less enjoy this one. Just don’t compare it to Cinder or other books before reading. *Side note- I really love the cover*