After the “Cinderella” story ends, a heroine inventor must stop a war between humans and Faerie.
Nicolette’s tale didn’t end after she found her prince and escaped her stepmother in the “Cinderella” retelling Mechanica (2015). Earning her living as an independent inventor, Nick’s uncomfortable with the public’s belief that she’s destined to wed their prince. She loves Fin, yes, but their relationship with each other and with their best friend, Caro, isn’t something she wants to constrain by a conventional marriage. Meanwhile, anti-magic religious fanatics and war profiteers aim to lead the kingdom in a full-blown genocide of Faerie. Fin thinks he can stop the war, but they must hurry; one courtier is secretly building an automaton army. An airship journey across the ocean to Faerie ends exactly as the adventure demands, leading to angst-y revelations, steampunk gadgeteering, and cinematic battles. The romantic element is solid and nondistracting, as dark-skinned Fin, “short, fat, pretty blonde” white Caro, and Nick (whose appearance is ambiguous) remain happily in love with one another, leaving the emotional hand-wringing for political and family drama. The romantic triad, lacking any on-page erotic component, is deftly handled. Unresolved plot threads imply a sequel in the works.
As clever as the heroine’s invented boot polishers and sewing machines, as appealing as the dresses designed by her coal-powered automaton horse. (Steampunk. 12-16)