Mechanica #1. Author: Betsy Cornwell.
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. (Published summary.)
So. Steampunk-Cinderella. Apparently a bunch of people had problems with slow pacing, but I don’t have problems with that usually, so it was fine. I loved Mechanica: her independence, her determination, her strength. I loved (parts of) the ending, and its message. Cinderella taking care of herself, and choosing her own fate? Oh, yes. But… it did fall a little flat. We have so much interesting build-up with the fae, and the possible war, and the mystery surrounding the royal family. (I saw that plot twist coming miles away). And almost none of it is realized in the ending. Maybe the sequel will fulfill its potential more?
Sexual content: MC’s friend is an illegitimate son. Fae don’t marry, but live in friend-groups, mostly; when they want a child, they all decide who will bear it, then all wish for it.
Language: 1 d***
Violence: Finds a mechanical animal destroyed, stomped on.