Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (review)

November 11, 2015 All Reviews, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, YA 2 ★★★

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (review)Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion Books on August 25th 2015
Number of Pages: 304
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Young Adult
Source: Library
Format: eBook
Purchase: At Amazon

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.

I loved all the inventions and steampunk things in this book. I especially loved Jules.

I liked that in this Cinderella twist, Nicolette wasn’t trying to get to the ball and meet the prince. She was trying to get to an inventors showcase and find a patron for her inventions so she could be her own person. Not under her step-families thumb and subject to their whims.

There was both insta-love, and insta-friendship in the book. The insta-love isn’t surprising considering this is basically a Cinderella retelling. But Nicolette’s love interest as well as her best friend didn’t have a lot of focus in the book. And therefore, they weren’t developed as well as they could have been. The same was true for her step-sisters and step-mother. We saw that they were bad and mean to Nicolette, but we never really saw more than that surface.

I liked the ending in general, it fit Nicolette’s personality perfectly. But there was too much left open. I want to know what Ash is, and why it’s apparently bad. I want to know what happens to Nicolette’s house and her mother’s workshop. What happens next in her friendships. Does the hinted at war happen? What about Jules?

With so much left open, I’m hoping there will be a sequel to wrap things up more. But as it stands right now, it’s too open without the promise of another book in the series. If you like retellings and unique twists, I would recommend this book. But only if you don’t mind open-endings as well.


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2 Responses to “Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (review)”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Hmm, I really don’t like the idea of a book finishing with too much left open. That always strikes me as…I don’t know…lazy? Authors shouldn’t rely on withholding closure to encourage readers to pick up the next book. I have this on my NetGalley pile to read, and I’m afraid that just made me even less motivated to pick it up. I don’t like too-open endings 🙁
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…#RRSciFiMonth Review & GIVEAWAY: Star Wars Psychology by Dr. Travis LangleyMy Profile

    • SilvaraWilde

      From comment responses on GoodReads, it looks like she left it open ended in case she ever wanted to write a sequel. But she wasn’t sure she wanted to do so, so she tried to wrap some of it up at the same time. And it just didn’t work for me. I did really enjoy the book for the most part, it just bugged me about the ending being like that. And had I realized it was that open, I may have put off reading it for a while myself. Made me a bit leery to read any other books by her to be honest.

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