by Betsy Cornwell
”A hundred and twenty?”
“Anything less than one fifty would be shockin’.”
“So be shocked. I don’t mind.”
- Page 219
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: YA/fantasy/fairytale retelling/steampunk
Rating: 4 Voodoos
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 went into this book, scared there would be no HEA (Happily Ever After for any newbies out there). I’m always annoyed at the people who claim “She needs no man to be happy!” well, possibly she needs a woman, but that’s not really what they mean. They’re trying to state that women are independent too, but I always find it somewhat naive. Do these people not deserve to be happy and loved too? Because, this is what they’re loosing while you’re protecting their independence. But this isn’t particularly relevant here and I got a little side tracked.
This was an interesting take on the Cinderella fairytale, combining it with steampunk and making her a mechanic gave it a fresh and interesting new perspective. The was also a lot else going on in this world, it wasn’t all about Mechanica, which I also liked. As to a favourite character, well it’s hard to choose, especially since the characters we knew for most of the book were actually very different at the end and I’m not so sure anymore.
The problem with books hinging on the ending means you can’t actually say “YES! I loved this book because they flew off into the sunset on a magical something or other” or “NO! I hated this ending because he left to join a Monastery.” or whatever. You have to say something more cryptic like “This book started to loose me around page 286, before then I was in denial, but then after that I got a little confused about where it was going and now I’m pretty sure this ISN’T a standalone, even though so far it has every indication of being so.” It has something of an open ending, questions still need answering, but at the same time it can be left there. (not really, answer the questions dammat)