Book reviews / Fantasy

Book review: Mechanica

This is the last of the three books I randomly bought the other day. Mechanica is a retelling of Cinderella by Betsy Cornwall. The twist is that there’s also fairies and it’s a bit steam punk. More like magic steam punk. That also doesn’t describe it well. Basically, there’s a bit of science and engineering and magic.

And it works, to a certain extent. I think my main issue with it is that you kind of know the story already (though there is totally a twist which I won’t ruin). And so the whole awful step mother and step sister thing is kind of obvious. Which makes the intro a bit slow for me. It felt like that was the least interesting thing to drag out about the book (and I felt like it dragged out a bit more than necessary given how many people must know the story).

I felt there could have been more interesting stuff about exploring Nicolette’s (the main character, the Cinderella/Mechanica of the story) mother’s notebooks. All the interesting stuff about learning and crafting just is mentioned in passing. Also more politics about the whole Fairy Wars/Isolation. I felt that could have been more fun. Maybe that will be the sequel (if there is a sequel, who knows).

But other than that, it’s okay. I think it would be a good book to read on a plane. It doesn’t demand much of you but is kind of sugary sweet and nice. The story is familiar so you can just breeze along and just hit all the familiar beats.

There’s a couple innovations in the story that I liked quite a bit, all the fairy inventions and Jules, who is central to the story but I wont’ tell you how (spoilers, you know). As well as a few other things that make it a bit different than your typical Cinderella retelling.

You could say it clearly passed the test because most of the main characters were women: Nicolette, her friend Caro, her step sisters, her step mothers, and her own mother. The main male characters were Nicolette’s friend Fin, her father and Mr Candery (and two of those were quite minor really). So far all it’s simplicity, it still does better than most books for female characters.

Anyway, it was sweet and not too heavy, a bit like candy floss. So if you want a delightful afternoon reading a book, have a go. You won’t be changed by it, and may forget about it within a year, but it was nice. I give it 3/5 stars for being nice (and for having a really pretty cover).

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