cover image Mechanica


Betsy Cornwell. Clarion, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-547-92771-8

In a kingdom that both needs and fears faeries, orphan Nicolette’s late mother was a gifted mechanist, who created tiny clockwork animals and other creatures brought to life through Fey magic. On her 16th birthday, Nick discovers her mother’s hidden workshop—a welcome distraction from stitching new gowns for her cruel stepsisters, Piety and Chastity, in time for them to meet the young prince who will soon marry. There’s no need of fairy godmothers in this feminist retelling of Cinderella, since Cornwell (Tides) gives Nick all the tools necessary to make magic on her own (though she also puts her in the way of some helpful new friends). Nick’s narration can be claustrophobic; even as Nick’s social circle expands, readers remain largely inside her head. (That said, Cornwell’s evocative writing makes Nick’s intelligent mind a fine place to spend time.) Fans of fairy-tale updates will find it easy to lose themselves in this bright, romantic story, whose hero shows she can not only have it all but also do it herself. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Aug.)