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 received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Clarion Books
Mechanica is a magical and enchanting retelling of the classic Cinderella story.
- From the first page, I was hooked. The steampunk twist on Cinderella coupled with fae magic and romance was an enthralling, whimsical mashup. You know that sweet, wonder that takes over when you experience something so dazzling and magical that you’re flooded with warmth and happiness? Mechanica did that for me.
- Jules, the steampunk bugs, the quirky engineering and mysterious darkness of the ashes added something really special to the story. The surprise and excitement, the wide-eyed curiosity at the spectacle that was Nick and her mother’s creations were beyond creative and reinforced the severed connection between mother and daughter. Each invention has a life of its own. The life brought to the cogs and levers made each new creation feel special and lovable.
- Nick (Mechanica) is a very modern woman. She thrives on engineering books and physics, she wants to make something of herself, open her own business, to create, and be a successful entrepreneur. Nick recognizes the dire, horrible reality of her situation and makes the best of it, she builds and rebuilds, she’s resilient and won’t let anyone beat her down. No matter the tragedy, Nick hold her head high and plans for a better future. Nick yearns for companionship and lost love. She puts her heart into her work and dismisses her sadness. Nick’s ultimate decision made me incredibly proud. You don’t expect it and yet, it fits, it’s perfect.
- Caro is irresistably charming and kind. She’s the sultry best friend any girl needs and the best companion for Nick. Their friendship is sweet and compassionate.
- Fin is an enigma that is almost broody at times and flirty others. He’s artistic and poised, kind. The brewing chemistry between Nick and Fin is slow, steady, and a little like love.
- Parts were predictable and took away from the surprise factor.
- The underlying prejudice and blossoming war with the fae was extremely important and fell into the background. The truth of the ashes was left unanswered.
- The weird sort of ménage romance was off-putting and bizarre. It kind of felt thrown in to round out the story. How Nick could be okay with that despite her obsession with the fae notion of family was hard to understand.
- Typically, the step sisters and stepmother and terrible, ridiculously cruel people but there was barely enough interaction to truly despise them. The stepmother had a small role and while their destruction was devastating and huge, their general impression in the story was tiny.
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