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By Betsy Cornwell

“’Mechanica. I was surprised by how fond I’d become of the name. It has a certain cadence, a clicking rhythm that reminded me of gears turning. I wondered when I’d come to like it so. ” 


Nicolette has been a servant in her own home for over 5+ years since her father passed away and she was left with the “Steps”, her step-mother and step-sisters. Overcome with grief and a longing for someone to care about her as her own mother had, she works without question.

But when a mysterious letter appears at her door on her sixteenth birthday and it leads her to her mother’s old workshop, her future seems a whole lot brighter. She finds tools and machines to help her in her chores, and even her mother’s old plans for other inventions. She begins creating her own helpful machines and takes them to the market to sell. There she makes two friends, something she has done in a long time.

With the Royal Ball and Exposition looming in the distance, Nicolette comes across plans her mother made for a special machine. She makes a few adjustments and starts building it, pouring in dreams of her own workshop away from the Steps, the love she had for her mother and a just a pinch of Fae magic, something that is illegal and might just get her caught.


The minute you start reading you’re sucked in. I loved how the story was familiar but at the same time completely new. New names, added gadgets and a different purpose than the old Cinderella fairytale. I loved how real emotion was tied in. Nicolette was not the “always happy no matter what happens” heroine. She was depressed and lonely at times. It was a very good depiction of what grief can do to someone. You sometimes just have to keep your head down and plug along, one day at a time. But she was also excited and innovative. She found ways to make things easier, and when she was given a new opportunity, one that could help get her out of a bad situation, she took it. She rocks!

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I have read this book once before a few years ago. While I absolutely love the steampunk portions and the whole twist to the Cinderella story, I have to admit,  I didn’t enjoy the ending the first time around. I’m just a sucker for those happily ever after, fairytale, romantic endings I guess.

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But, I changed my mind about the ending after reading it again. It makes sense honestly. After having gone through a little bit more heartache myself (we all do as we grow up), I can see the realism in what Betsy Cornwell wrote. And by no means is it an unhappy ending, it’s just different, kinda like how we all felt after watching How to Train Your Dragon 3 (that was just so bittersweet, am I right?)

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Aaaaanyways… It really was a great book, so well written. I felt like I was right there with Nicolette as she worked through some pretty complicated emotions from awe and joy, down to despair and loneliness. And it was inspiring too, made me feel like I could get up and do something that would make people excited. A great read for young and old readers alike. Would recommend to anyone who enjoys fairytale retellings, steampunk, and motivational heroines.

Age Group: 14+

Content Concerns: Forced servitude, demeaning comments, self-esteem, depression, loneliness.

Language: 1/10 Not much

Lord’s name in vain p. 21, 26, 91, 304

Violence/Gore: 2/10 Not much here either. One emotionally intense moment where a character we’ve gotten to know dies.

p. 29-30, 54-55 Talk of a character killed by poison.

p. 118-119, 167 A character’s death is talked about (nothing graphic, and we are hearing about it after the fact).

p. 202 Comparison of a methodical task to a surgeon’s work not even worth mentioning, but if you’re squeamish about surgeries)

p. 269 A character get’s slapped (THEY FREAKING DESERVED IT!)

Sexual Content: 1/10 Lots of talk about romance and love, but only two mild kisses in one scene.

p. 45-46 The way Fae have children is explained. Nothing sexual, just thought I’d mention it was different than human conception.

p. 100 Mention of illegitimacy, if you blink you miss it.

p. 204-205 Kissing scene


Check out more Cinderella retellings!

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