‘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 pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.’
When I heard that Betsy Cornwell had come out with another book, I was intrigued and excited. Then I heard that her new (at the time) book, Mechanica was a rendition on the Cinderella story, my excitement died down a little. I mean, there were so many Childhood story renditions coming out left, right and centre. However, I held the faith that Mechanica would be interesting.
I’m honestly so glad that I read Mechanica. Not only is the story inventive and at times, endearing, but the little quote on the front of the book that says
“Invent your own happily ever after.”
That quote was totally put to use in the story! I ended up liking Mechanica way more that I originally thought I would.
If I was to describe Mechanica in a few words, I’d say “Steampunk Fantasy Cinderella.” Which Mechanica is. I mean, you can see the gears and chains on the cover. The details in this story are very creative and have a child’s honestly to them. I ended up really enjoying the details and being able to visualize everything was absolutely fun.
Betsy Cornwell has managed to forge the Cinderella story into her own while still holding the backbone of the original story.
The main character of this book is Nicolette. Through Nicolette we see what her life was like when her mother was alive. Which is something that I don’t think a lot of the Cinderella renditions have done. We also see what Nicolette’s father was like, both before and after Nicolette’s mother has died, and then before and after we see her father introduce her stepmother and stepsisters to Nicolette.
From there on we see how Nicolette takes us though her life. We see how her life had panned out after her father’s death, and how her stepmother took reign of the house.
The difference between Mechanica and the rest of the Cinderella renditions, in my eyes, is the magical fantasy element to this story. There are little odds and ends in the Mechanica story that stand out in my mind, which make this story such a grand one. I loved seeing Nicolette, for a better phrase, come back to life. I loved seeing her happy and work through her troubles (both with living with the Steps and her own problems). I loved seeing how there was actually POC in this book. I loved the likeness that Cornwell is able to articulate in Mechanica.
I absolutely enjoyed the fact that Nicolette managed to forge out her own little happy ending. She didn’t let herself fall into something that she knew she wouldn’t be happy about. I love that in the end, Nicolette did what is best for her. Not for someone else or their happiness. But for her, and her alone. By the end of the book, Nicolette has managed what she had always dreamed to do and I love that.
I ended up giving Mechanica 4 of 5 stars on Goodreads.
Have you read Mechanica yet? If you have, what did/do you think of the book? I’d love to know!