DNF Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Mechanica Cover

Title: Mechanica
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: August 25, 2015
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Summary (via Goodreads): 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 did not finish this book at 10% because there was too much backstory and it wasn’t holding my interest. I was looking forward to reading this book because I love fairy tale retellings, so I was happy when Netgalley approved my request. But the book wasn’t entertaining me, so I had to put it down.


I love backstory, but when there really isn’t much happening except flashbacks and descriptions for 30+ pages, it’s a little too much for even me. I wanted to see some action, to see some other characters besides the ones inside Nicolette’s memory. And I know her mother’s workshop is important, but I don’t think that much time should have been spent on it, especially right at the beginning of the book. Save some descriptions for later on.


Another thing that I didn’t like was that there wasn’t even a mention of the “prince” Nicolette finds in the first 10%. Does he not show up until halfway through the book? Is he actually a prince? I like to at least see the love interest early on in the story, even if the romance is slow-burning. I love romance, so it’s a hard sell if romance is an afterthought, or not present, in a book.


Final note: The book has an interesting premise, but it’s WAY too slow to hold my attention. The writing wasn’t that bad, so I might give it another try sometime.

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