Saturday 29 August 2015
Review: Mechanica - Betsy Cornwell
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.
Visit Betsy Cornwell's website for more information
I took one look at the stunning cover of Mechanica and knew I wanted to read it and that was before I discovered it was a steampunk retelling of Cinderella. Talk about a book that was made for me! I've seen lots of people commenting that this sounds similar to Cinder by Marissa Meyer so I wanted to clarify that apart from the fact that they're both based on Cinderella these books couldn't be more different.
Nicolette grew up watching her mother creating fascinating mechanical creatures and useful gadgets and she always dreamed of becoming an inventor too but after her mother's death her father had their workshop destroyed. Now, after losing her father too, Nicolette spends her life running around after her stepmother and stepsisters, she is pretty much a servant in her own home but she doesn't have anywhere else to go so she's stuck there until she can find a way to escape. Then on her sixteenth birthday she receives a mysterious letter from her mother and discovers a secret workshop hidden in the basement. Nicolette finally has access to her tools and she finds unexpected friends when she realises some of her mothers mechanical creatures have survived. With the help of her new friends Nicolette's life gradually starts to get easier as she creates mechanical tools to take over her day to day tasks allowing her time to work on new inventions.
When it is announced that the royal family is holding a ball in honour of the prince Nicolette is much more interested in the inventor's exposition that will follow, if she can just create something amazing perhaps she will be able to find a sponsor and earn enough money to leave home. Unlike Cinderella Nicolette is determined to save herself, she doesn't need to marry a prince and she would much rather become a famous inventor and earn her own living. I think that was the main thing I loved about her character, she has it tough but rather than sit around complaining about things she sets her sights on a goal and works hard to make her dreams come true. Of course she does have a little help along the way and I enjoyed seeing her make a few friends outside the house but I have to admit my favourite character was the mechanical horse Jules.
Mechanica is beautifully written and very descriptive, it was easy to dive into Nicolette's world and I enjoyed reading the story. The pace was a little slow at times but I was so caught up in it that it didn't really bother me. I think the main issue I had was with the ending, not because of the twist (which I have to admit I guessed well before the end) but because of the way one of her new friends acted. I was pleased with how Nicolette handled things but I was disappointed with the way her friends reacted to the situation and it just left the ending feeling a little bit flat. This was still a fun read though and I'll definitely keep an eye out for more from Betsy Cornwell in the future.
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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Hardback / Kindle: