“Mechanica” by Betsy Cornwell

5 stars!

I really don’t get all the low ratings for this. I devoured Mechanica in 24 hours! I’ve read that people thought it was boring or that the pacing was slow. I just didn’t have that experience (and I am someone who can’t stand boring, slow-paced books). I guess it’s just one of those things.

So, this is NOTHING like Cinder whatsoever, for those wondering. Cinder has a more sci-fi vibe to it. I adored Cinder and gave it 5 stars also (see my review here if you want). This book is more steampunk fantasy with fae/fey magic.

Nicolette’s story starts in a pretty typical Cinderella manner. The adored mother dies and the father re-marries to a monster of a step-mother with two equally horrendous daughters. The father also dies and the “Steps” take over Nicolette’s home and make her the servant.

What I ADORED about this re-telling is that the mother was a genius mechanic who used fey magic to infuse animal creations, so that rather than just have gears and clocks and belts and glass bodies that run on coal, they actually have a spark of life in them. (Jules is one of the best animal supporting characters ever).

Nicolette ends up discovering her mother’s work and becoming a brilliant mechanic herself. Instead of a ball being the most important event in this re-telling, it’s an exposition, where citizens can showcase their talents and innovative ideas. There’s a bit of romance, but it’s a minor element. Nicolette is a very strong female character. This does not have your typical romantic HEA and in fact does not have one at all. The HEA is Nick becoming her own person, able to stand on her own.

Friendship is also a main theme. I enjoyed the friendship between Fin and Caro and Nick. I was put off by Caro’s attitude in regards to finding out someone was in love with her. But I appreciated the unconventional ending, so am not going to deduct a star even though it was a pretty big deal to me. It made her seem flippant and not as sympathetic.

Part of what made me feel such a resonance with this, I think, is that it has an air of wistfulness and melancholy that gave me lots of feels. So even though it might not have been action-packed, I was very much into what Nick was doing and going through and how her friendships grew.

I LOVED the way the fey were described and their magic. We never actually meet any full-blooded fey, but their magic is a main backdrop throughout.

I had no expectations with this and ended up loving it.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy of this to read and review. This was a joy to read.

First reaction:

BAM. 5 stars. Loved it. RTC.

Original post:

Netgalley approved me!

I’m all about steampunk Cinderellas. “Tiny magical metal horse?” Sold.


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