Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell: 4 stars
I've read, watched and agonized over a ton of twisted/fractured/rebooted/whatever fairy tales lately. My favorite in the last several weeks is Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell. It has nothing to do with the story I'm writing, unfortunately. Still, you may find some of it has crept into my mind.
The main character, Nicolette, is an inventor and an analogue for Cinderella. She lives a life of constant servitude to her stepmother and evil stepsisters, but without all the sweetness and kindness of the Charles Perrault version. Nicolette (named Mechanica by her stepsisters) has a plan to get herself out of this mess, and it relies on her brilliant abilities as an inventor.
This YA novel explores themes of independence, morality and the nature of love without seeming like a lecture. Nicolette is heroic and admirable, but she is also flawed. She hurts others in her struggle to break free, and she finds herself in a state of deep regret many times. Despite or perhaps because of her flaws, it is easy to cheer her victories and mourn her defeats alongside her.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell is a story worth reading, even without the Cinderella twist. The world is believable and complex. The main character is interesting and likable without being saccharine. The magic is well set up with obvious rules without retreating to overly simplistic cliche. All in all, it's fun to read.
Go check it out!
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