Review of Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

by Betsy Cornwell
Release Date: August 25th 2015
Publisher: Clarion Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
I love retellings so I was very eager to read Mechanica (and that cover!) and overall I did enjoy it. I loved that Cornwell took the classic Cinderella story and added some feminism. Nicolette- Nick for short- was a strong character that had mechanical skills like her mother before her. I thought that her mechanisms were interesting and for the most part easy to visualize. Jules, the mechanical horse her mother created, was adorable and he was my favorite character in the story….until View Spoiler »

Mechanica didn’t revolve around the romance but when the romantic elements were present they weren’t my favorite. There was some insta-love but it did help that the character was aware that they were feeling things a little quickly. The idea of being in love with the idea of someone rather than their true self was present and was a believable approach since that happens often in life. I never felt any chemistry between the characters. Not one little bit. The scenes felt pretty typical for the most part and were less swoony and more annoying.

As I mentioned above, Nick was a strong character and I loved that she was set on helping herself and creating a new life with her mechanical skills. She had a goal and worked towards it even with many obstacles standing in her way. I thought that was a great twist to the Cinderella story. No prince needed to save her. The only issue was that somehow it all fell flat regardless? I’m not sure exactly how or why but there were parts of the book that felt slower and yet the ending sequence felt rushed. Things sort of fell into place and were a tad too easy.

Final Thoughts:
Though the idea behind Mechanica was strong the execution fell flat for me. Nick was a strong character though not overly relatable and I never did feel chemistry between any of the characters. I wanted to have an emotional investment into Nick’s story but I never did. I though the mechanical elements added a great deal to the story and like I said it was based on a great twist to the typical Cinderella story.


    • says

      I loved the concept so much. I always hope that since we read the arc maybe things will flow a bit smoother in the final, you know? I do think the concept was very strong.

  1. says

    It seems like we very much agreed with our opinions on this one! I also adored Jules and the clockwork bits and everything related to the inventions. AND I loved that the message was clearly “you can rescue yourself!” but ultimately something was lacking to make me connect and love the book!
    Great review Kristen!

  2. says

    I love the cover (I thought about steampunk..) and the summary sounds nice. But after reading your review I don’t have the feeling I would like it. So I’ll wait for another fairy tail retelling, there are enough at the moment 🙂

    • says

      Awww, It does have steampunk elements and if you do decide to ever read it (Maybe the library) I hope you enjoy it. It was not a bad read by any means

  3. says

    Gorgeous review Kristen. <3 I'm glad you ended up liking this one 🙂 3 stars is still pretty good ;p but ugh. The book sounds a bit annoying 🙁 I never wanted to read it, lol, despite that gorgeous cover 🙂 And now I'm glad I didn't. Seriously. That spoiler? I very much agree. That is taking it a bit too far, lol. And you didn't like the romance? Not good at all 🙁 Sigh. But I'm happy you still liked the book 🙂 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie. <3

  4. says

    I totally agree with you, the execution fell flat for me as well. Even though Betsy Cornwell is a good writer and I thought that the concept of this book had so much potential, I found myself feeling antsy and bored throughout long sections of the book. When I’m reading, dialogue is a crucial aspect for me and I was really missing that here. I don’t regret reading it though, despite the fact that I didn’t end up giving Mechanica a high rating.

  5. says

    I’ve been pretty ruthless about cutting down my to read books and this is one that did not make the cut because I’m a little over saturated with fairy tale retellings in my life right now. After reading your review I’m kind of glad I decided to pass though. I’ll add this to my “can recommend but don’t have to read” wheelhouse.

  6. says

    I was curious about this book the first time I heard about it and saw that wonderful cover, but it hasn’t been getting the best reviews lately so I am not sure if I am going to try it anymore. Seems like it had promise but fell a bit flat…


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