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Mechanica - A Cinderella Retelling

(4/5 ⭐️) “Everything was a broken line for me in those days. I was slipped into the empty spaces between words.” Mechanica is Cinderella reimagined in a charming way with an ending that will take you by complete surprise.

On her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette finds a letter from her long dead mother, leading her to a secret workshop beneath the house that belonged to their family before her father passed away. Nicolette always believed that the workshop perished in a fire, and she went on believing this as she was forced to sere her evil stepmother and step sisters. When she discovers the workshop in pristine condition, everything changes. Her chores become easier, and she begins to make a life and new identity for herself. She sees the workshop as a way to do something for herself and escape the clutches of her confinement. Then an announcement of a royal ball and exhibition sweep through the kingdom and Nicolette is determined to build a mechanical machine that will make a name for her.

This book was amazing. This retelling is magical, with so many parallels offered in a fresh way. The ending was especially refreshing. The beautiful simplicity of the plot, the world building, and the relatability of characters were all aspects brilliantly done. I’m always a sap for fairy tale retellings, and this one did not disappoint. The audience is definitely YA, more specifically, younger YA audiences due to the simplicity of ideas subtle depth.

I absolutely love how easily and quickly this story reads. The way Nicolette defied gender role expectations was refreshing. I especially enjoyed how the story ended—slightly unpredictable but in a fulfilling way. In terms of detail, the world building isn’t excessive, but just enough. While it is obviously a victorian steampunk, the author gives without overwhelming readers. One of the aspects that offered political intrigue were the dynamic between the people of Nicolette’s country and the world of Faerie. The faerie offer the magical aspects of the story, and like all steampunk settings, there is an emphasis placed on the suppression of peoples, specifically the faerie, who are made out to be the enemy, when it is clearly obvious that they are not. While the political aspects are quite muted, they are there, driving the story forward.

My only qualm was that the story was very short, more of a novella. I would have liked something a bit more in depth, with more of a YA feel rather than a middle grade feel. Let’s just say that had the story been more detailed, and longer, I wouldn’t have complained. Either way, I think I’ll dive into the second book soon.


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