Nicoletta spent her early years by her inventor mother’s side, learning the basics of physics, engineering, mathematics, and some magical elements that her mother infused into her inventions. When she was 11, everything changed. Her mother became ill and died. After a short time, her emotionally-distant father brought home a new stepmother and two stepsisters. While traveling for business, her father died as well, leaving her to the mercy of her cruel stepmother, who released the other house staff and required “Nick,” as they called her, to care for their needs. Fortunately, her mother had created ways to ease household chores through her inventions, so Nick was able to continue with her studies.
When she turned 16, everything changed again. She received a mysterious note that led her to her mother’s hidden workshop, and her mother’s inventions came alive for her, both figuratively and literally. She started making plans for a grand invention to show at the Exhibition, which is kicked off with an elaborate ball. Will she be able to pull off her escape?
Mechanica, by Betsy Cornwell, is another iteration of the Cinderella story, but with elements of steampunk mixed with magic. Although parts of the story are, of course, quite predictable, the author does manage to twist the story in a new direction, which allows Nicoletta to become independent, rather than relying on the rescue from a prince. If you enjoy reading new versions of old fairy tales, you will enjoy Mechanica, by Betsy Cornwell.