Nicolette's awful stepsisters call her Mechanica to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother's knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday-and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse-Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There's a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.
Ash by Malinda Lo meets Marissa Meyer's Cinder: A YA retelling of Cinderella about an indomitable inventor-mechanic who finds her prince but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all. Fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners and Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel will find much to love here.