ARC Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Series: Standalone
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings
Release Date: August 25th 2015
Book Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: ARC, Goodreads 
Review: 2/5 *Full Review Below.

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.


Let’s get down to brass tax, we have our protagonist Nicolette or ‘Nick’ who resembles the classic Cinderella; she’s an orphan and has two hideous stepsisters and an evil stepmother. She is made to do all the housework, chores and to be at her family's beck and call. Nick wishes to be free from her family, to be independent and to become a famous inventor. On her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers her mother’s old workroom filled with old inventions and blueprints. Nicolette is determined to discover her mother’s old secrets and create the greatest inventions around so that she may have a workshop of her own.

For starters there was no real plot to this book, the first half was agonizingly slow. It basically consisted of Nicolette’s inner monologue of her terrible life, flashbacks of her childhood or the ponderings of her mother and fathers loveless relationship.

“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.”

So maybe a romance with a gorgeous prince can save this fairytale? No, take note of the quote above from the blurb. I set my own this trap believing this, I figured that maybe there would be at least some kind of romance but there really wasn’t. I would have to agree with others in that this does have instalove, as there wasn’t enough focus or actual scenes for this romance to be believable or realistic. BUT I think the main reason for the low ratings and mine also is because of the ending. I will be posting a spoiler lower down because I feel that people should be warned about this, there is nothing worse than following a book to the very end to be in my case completely disappointed.

The book had such potential and great premise but it just failed to hold my attention. As I stated I felt there was no actual plot in this book but merely plodding along with the heroine to see what she will do that day. There was no excitement or scandal that keep you on the edge of your seat with your heart pounding, dying to find out what comes next. The only part of the story that gripped me was the introduction of Fae, y’all know I love them! The Fae as always are magical creatures and Nicolette finds ‘Ashes’ among her mothers possessions which are clearly some form of dark magic that has come from the Fae world. Nicolette at one point even feels that these ‘Ashes’ would help stop the impending war between humans and Fae. But do we ever find out what these ashes are? Ever find out about the war? When it will happen? Who will win? No, not a thing! I was basically left in a steampunk limbo.

*** Spoilers Below ***
This is a different kind of Cinderella retelling but I was under the impression that Nicolette would end up with the fancy prince? No she in fact turns him down. Nicolette met the prince only a handful of times, barely spoke and shared a PG kiss. It was here that she decided to imagine their relationship in her head and spend days and days having pretend conversations with him. So completely fantasizing a relationship out of thin air, hey I’m sure we’ve all done it before. 
She continued to do this for weeks until they finally meet again at a ball. She then finds out that he has always been in love with someone else. So when he finally does pop the question she turns him down? Some reviews have said that they really admire her choice and crediting her for being independent or for this book taking a more feminist route. Like really? Do I? NO, this is common sense!!! He doesn’t love you so don’t marry him? Duh?! At one point Nicolette even sees the error in her fantasy and realizes that the princes she has been spending time with is nothing like what she has created in her head.

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  1. Oh no... this sounds like it would drive me absolutely crazy!!! I really dislike it when a character monologues for ever and a day in their head. I couldn't help read your spoiler and no, just no. Like you say that is simple logic, not strong feminism. Thank you for the warning, this book and I will not be friends unfortunately! ;]

    1. Yes Catherine!! I'm so glad you agree, it would be great to have some feminism in a book but this just wasn't it, thank you so much for visiting :)

  2. Oh no! I got a copy of this but I haven't read it yet. I was really excited to read it because I love retellings and also the cover is so pretty! I'm sad to hear this was a disappointment. Great review!

    ~Cari @

    1. Completely agree, the cover is gorgeous! Thanks Carina, let me know what you think :)

  3. I'm not sure if I should/want to read the spoiler section ... I WANTED to read this book but your review doesn't sound good and now I don't know anymore. *sigh* Still a great review! I guess I'll keep an eye on it and read a few more reviews ... oh well.

    Oh, and thank you for following! I follow you too now! :D
    Yvonne @ A World Between Folded Pages

    1. Thanks so much Yvonne, and thanks for following me back! Yes definitely check out some more reviews and then see if you want to give it a go :)


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