Book Review: Mechanica, by Betsy Cornwell

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*** I originally posted this in April, but since the book came out this week wanted readers who might have missed it to get pumped for this fantastic, feminist Cinderella retelling … also I’m still on vacation and didn’t want to write a new review. Hope you enjoy!***

As some readers (especially those that knew me when I was ten) know, Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine, is pretty much the most important book I ever read. It totally converted me from from being a kid who could barely read, and absolutely hated it, to someone who LOVED books (not just with a capital L, but with capital O, V, E, and D as well). It solidified my interest in fairytale retellings, especially ones focused on Cinderella. So as you can imagine, when I found out my friend Betsy Cornwell’s Cinderella retelling Mechanica was coming out this year, I was beyond excited. And even though it can’t take the place of Ella in my heart, it is now definitely my second favorite Cinderella story … and I’ve read a lot a lot of them. Here’s why (and it’s not because Betsy is so nice and funny and blogs about important things like writing and PTSD, being a friend to yourself, and making goat cheese):

Mechanica takes us to a steampunk world, where humans have just recently tried to banish everything from the the faerie world – including the magical technology Nicolette’s mother specialized in to make her inventions. With both her parents gone, Nicolette is called Mechanica by her stepsisters. It’s supposed to be mean, but she doesn’t mind that much. Luckily, when the Steps turned her into a servant at their beck and call, she had the mechanical skills, learned from her mother, to create machines to help get all that housework done. Even luckier, on her sixteenth birthday Nicolette finds her mother’s hidden workshop. With books and tools and a mechanical menagerie, she begins hoping that the upcoming technological exposition (with an accompanying royal ball afterwards) will be a place where she can earn her freedom.

Doesn’t that sound cool? Overall, I loved the world building and main character the most. I liked that Nicolette was this cool, intelligent, inventor-girl, who wanted to stay close to her mother’s home, but also kind of outsmarted the system by creating inventions that would do many of the chores for her. I also liked her entrepreneurial skills and the emphasis this book placed on friendship over romance.

I’ve heard a few people online say they have problems with the ending. No spoilers, but I will say the focus is on Nicolette proving herself as an inventor, not smooching. ALTHOUGH THERE DEFINITELY IS SMOOCHING!!! The ending was actually my favorite part. There was great tension and it actually ended in a way that was totally unexpected to me.

I’ve also heard some folks say it sounds too similar to Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. I liked (and reviewed) that book. But let me tell you THESE BOOKS ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT. The technology is different. The plot arcs are different. The worlds and types of stories (steampunk fantasy versus dystopian series) are completely different.

I definitely think there are room for both books, and highly highly recommend you preorder Mechanica or put it on your TBR list. This is one Cinderella retelling you definitely won’t want to miss. It comes out August 4th, so keep your eye peeled!


*I received an ARC from the author, but all my thoughts and opinions are honest and my own!

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