304p. Clarion. Aug. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547927718; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780547927749.
Gr 6–10—This inventive and subversive "Cinderella" retelling features Nicolette "Nick," who at 16 discovers the existence of a basement workshop, complete with a furnace, glassblowing apparatus, and other mechanical tools powered partly by fey magic. In secret, she makes mechanical steampunk creatures and devices, skills learned as a child while helping her inventor mother. Nick's been in servitude to her stepmother and stepsisters ever since her father died when she was 10, shortly after his remarriage. The King has banished the fey from the palace and kept his remaining son and heir Christopher sequestered from public view for fear of losing him to fey assassins like the Queen and his older son. No fey goods or magic are allowed in Esting. The protagonist secretly sells some of her creations at Market, but her dreams of selling enough to become independent are soon dashed when her stepfamily discovers some of her contraptions. They destroy them and jeeringly begin calling her Mechanica. Will she still be able to create something to show at the Exposition Gala & Ball that's being held by Prince Christopher to celebrate Esting's inventors and artisans? Readers looking for an atypical fairy tale will find this refreshing because it relies less on traditional romance or happy endings, and more on living independently and unconventionally, loving freely, and being able to choose your own destiny.
VERDICT Fans of Marissa Meyer's Cinder (Feiwel & Friends, 2012) will gravitate to this tale.

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