Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

I received this book for free from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mechanica by Betsy CornwellMechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, Girls & Women, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Clarion Books
Buy on 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.

More often than not, when a book annoys the fuck out of me, I:
a.) Tell the characters to stuff it;
b.) Roll my eyes every five minutes; and
c.) Throw my book/Kindle across the room (and onto my bed!–no way I’m destroying my babies).

I unfortunately did all three when reading Mechanica. I’m not even sure I have a legitimate reason for doing them–this book wasn’t bad by any means. It was just so incredibly boring that it ended up becoming slightly frustrating. I don’t get my logic either. Don’t ask.
First off, let’s talk about how this book was painfully slow. The story was basically just Nicolette going on and on about petty things for the entire book. Where is the actual plot? Where are the twists, turns and exciting revelations? Fairy Godmother must’ve forgotten to poof those into the story. Whoops.
The writing made it a bit harder for me to get into the book as well. It was simple and easy to read most of the time, but leaning more to the boringly classic sort of simple. Maybe it’s just me, though.
I’m not even sure what to think about Nicolette. There were times in the book where I admired her for her shows of strength, passion and determination… But there were also times when I wanted to push her down the stairs–particularly when she was with the prince. *gags*
All of the reviews I’ve read thus far said that this book didn’t focus on the romance, which I can agree with. But some also said that there wasn’t a lot of it–and that’s where I have to politely disagree. During that scene where she meets the prince for the first time, you can already tell that she was going to go gaga over him. And she did. I was infuriated every time these two were together. I would go further into this, but SPOILERS.
Despite all of the ranting I just did, this book really had a lot of potential. Betsy Cornwell really did a lot of things that defied the “standards of fairytales.” I mean, we have a very feminist plot, tight female friendships, an unexpected conclusion to the romance, plus a heroine who knows she’s simply “unskilled” and not “clumsy.”

One StarOne Star


  1. I’m sad you didn’t enjoy this. I was really excited for this book, but great review all the same. Too bad the author let go a good opportunity for a great book. And damn, that cover!

  2. Wow this has a beautiful cover! Sorry that the book didn’t earn a higher rating from you though…

  3. This review is on-point! I also found this book to be slow and boring, and I ended up rating it a 1.5.
    “During that scene where she meets the prince for the first time, you can already tell that she was going to go gaga over him. And she did.”
    YES! As soon as the prince shows up (before Mechanica knows who he is) I wrote myself a post-it that said “let me guess, he’s the prince” haha.

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.