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Betsy Cornwell

Author of Mechanica

7+ Works 934 Members 48 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author


Works by Betsy Cornwell

Mechanica (2015) 392 copies
The Forest Queen (2018) 158 copies
Tides (2013) 152 copies
Reader, I Murdered Him (2022) 83 copies
Venturess (2017) 75 copies
The Circus Rose (2020) 73 copies

Associated Works

Fairy Tale Review: The Yellow Issue (2013) — Contributor — 15 copies


Common Knowledge



A quirky reimagined version of Cinderella with fae elements and a mechanically minded heroine who is more at home when she's tinkering, fixing and inventing.

Nicolette was heartbroken after the loss of her mother and that only got worse when her father remarried. Her new stepmother and stepsisters wanted nothing to do with her - though they put on a decent front for her father. But when her father dies as well, Nicolette is pushed into the role of servant and so she stays for years - apathetic and numb to her life.

But everything changes on her sixteenth birthday when Nicolette receives a letter that leads her to the legacy her mother left behind - her workshop full of bits and bobs to create mechanical masterpieces. Thriving with her new path, Nicolette dares to dream of a better life - if only she is willing to take it.

I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly, but this wasn't it. This was a bit of a bizarre read. There is a lot of potential here but it doesn't quite reach the heights it could. The romance was clumsy and while likely designed with some sort of empowering girl power message it just feels awkward. The idea of not ending up with the prince was great. Fully supported it. But I didn't love Nick's feelings for him in the first place. It didn't feel like it developed organically and it felt ridiculously over the top. To be fair - probably also the standard for YA but I wasn't feeling it. I agree Fin didn't love her. I just also didn't agree that she loved him. So it irritated me that her empowering moment was letdown by the fact she had to have it at all. Couldn't she just be friends with the prince?

I hated the secondary complication of Fin loving Caro. Love triangles irritate me but this one particularly felt icky. Probably the idea they'd be forever locked into a threesome. And the final interaction was just too dismissive. It felt like all that build up was just gone in 3 seconds and it made no sense. It just felt awkward and out of place. The only one who seemed to have her head on straight regarding romance was Caro. I did think Caro's viewpoint was refreshing for a YA novel but it also came out of nowhere. It sort of felt like the author decided she should be preaching all the popular moral values and just mashed them up and it just didn't work.

That said, Nick was a great character. The author did a great job writing a likeable, relatable character with strengths and flaws. She wasn't all powerful or all knowing, she was just a normal everyday girl who wants love and friendship and happiness and I was all for it. I may have hated the romance but I adored her realisation at the end about what she wanted from life.

And then, finally—with a feeling in my chest that was a sinking and a rising at once, a drowning and a stirring of wings—I knew my answer. I could not fit inside a story someone else had built.

Cornwell, Betsy. Mechanica (p. 290). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

On the other hand I hated the stepmother and stepsisters. They were horrible. Nick's despair was heartbreaking. The friendship between Nick and Caro was terrific though. The fierce bond was a bit abrupt but people do sometimes just click and I liked that they spent time writing to one another to get to know each other better. Plus they were both so genuinely nice and it was refreshing. Even when they were potentially competing against each other for Fin, both of them were just supportive and kind to one another and it was great. I even rather liked the friendship between Fin, Nick and Caro - I would've liked to see it develop further without the romance complications.

In regards to the plot, I enjoyed the slower pace and the focus on Nick and her inventions and the life she was building. But not everyone will - it's very slice of life and that can be very hit or miss with people. The world building was interesting but a bit thin - I would've liked to know more about the Fae and her mother's history with them. I felt like it let the story down not going into the deeper connections. But what was introduced was good and kept my attention.

A fun steampunk retelling of Cinderella with genuinely nice characters and a straightforward plot. 3 stars.
… (more)
funstm | 24 other reviews | Mar 15, 2024 |
I loved this vengeance story; deeply feminist and queer
mslibrarynerd | 5 other reviews | Jan 13, 2024 |
A human boy is trying to prepare for college. A selkie girl is trying to learn about humans. They fall in love, and they need to work together to solve the mystery of a kidnapped girl. Selkies are a type of faerie that doesn't show up often in teen romance, so it was nice to see.
the1butterfly | 5 other reviews | Jul 18, 2023 |
I'm not fond of revenge literature or movies, but when it's women getting revenge I'm a complete sucker. In Reader I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell we get Victorian England's answer to Lisbeth Salander. You know all the jokes about what bad taste in men the Bronte sisters had? Cornwell agrees with them and writes a sequel to Jane Eyre told from the perspective of Adele, Rochester's ward. It's just delicious. I have to admit, due to some complicated events in my life these days, I'm enjoying more simplistic fare, and Cornwell is simply - well, what? I don't want to say thrilling, it's not that powerful, but it's a little thrilling, a little titillating, a little like eating a perfect brownie. Just yum.… (more)
1 vote
Citizenjoyce | 5 other reviews | Mar 8, 2023 |



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