Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Title: Mechanica 
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: August 25, 2015
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

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.

My Thoughts

"Love between friends could create life." - ARC of Mechanica

Betsy Cornwell incorporates a classic fairytale about Cinderella with steampunk elements creating a wonderful and enchanting story about Nicolette Delacourt Lampton the inventor. The Faerie world and the humans once lived together peacefully but humans banned anything Fey related because some relationship complications.

After Nicolette's mother passes away with a Faerie disease, Nicolette's father remarries Lady Halving. However, Nicolette's dad dies on New Year's Eve when she was only 10-years-old leaving Nicolette an orphan. Machines that she hide from Stepmother are the only things left she has from her mother besides her memories. Piety and Chastity, Mechanica's stepsisters are unfriendly even though Nicolette befriends them with kindness. On Nicolette's 16th birthday, her mother unveils how to find the secret workshop which is hidden from Stepmother, Piety and Chastity.

Cornwell focuses on friendships and independence. I love reading about an independent girl who is strong. Nicolette thinks about what is best for her and will not have others pity her. She does not require a man to take care of her because she is capable of taking care of herself. She is fierce and a good role model for girls. I also enjoy reading about women who love science. Not many females dabble into science and especially more on the engineering side of the field. It's inspiring to see Nicolette and her mother embracing their love for tinkering with mechanisms and creating beautiful yet useful contraptions. Friendships throughout the novel are important. Building strong and healthy relationships are important. Nicolette meets Caro and Fin at the Marketplace and become good friends. Her greatest friend of all is Jules who keeps her company everyday at home.

I absolutely fell in love with the cover when it was revealed. It's gorgeous and perfect for the book. What bothered me was when Piety and Chastity, also known as the Steps, rip pages out of the leather-bound books. It definitely made me cringe. The pacing of the story can be slow at time and is drawn out but I enjoyed the interactions of the characters. Overall, Mechanica is intricate Cinderella retelling full of magic and inspiration. However, there are certain areas I wish Cornwell went into more detail. I want to know more about the Fey magic that is used in the workshop, what happened to the orders that Nicolette has to fulfill and what are the Ashes. I also want to know more about the outcome of the Cultural Exposition Gala. Mechanica may not be a fast paced book but it is a novel to savor slowly.

If you plan to be around Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, August 8th, Cornwell will be making an appearance at The Way Station. She will also be at the Brookline Booksmith on Sunday, August 9th. Check out more information about the two events here.

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