Judge a Book by its Cover: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

judge a book
                by its cover


Covers are important.  They're not the only thing that makes a reader buy a book, but it's the first thing a reader sees.  A good cover gives you an idea of the tone and content of the book.  A bad one has you thinking that a serious vampire story is a light-hearted contemporary.  

So let's put covers to the test.

In this feature, C.J. asks her friends, coworkers, and random strangers a simple question: 

What do you think this book is about?  

But you can only look at the cover.  


today's book

the guesses 

I feel like there are two options.  One of them, she's a beautiful maiden trapped in a dystopian society called Mechanica or something where everyone is run by machiens or are slaves to machines or are used to run machines, and she's kind of some lone star.  Like Snow White.  That's what it reminds me of because of the birds.  The other thing, is that she's somehow part machine, which would obviously change her ability to love and be cared for and all that stuff.  So maybe that's why she looks like that.  Oh wait, there's a third.  Or she's a beautiful maiden like Beauty and the Beast and some evil robot guy wants to marry her. 

 I think it is a story similar to Cinderella except the woman is an animatronic doll who lives in a steam punk setting?

In a kingdom in which humans live alongside mechanical animals and humans, a kind, smart, and pretty-ish but sort of plain princess leads her nation with dignity and grace. The mechanical living things are believed to be non-sentient, that is, until the princess starts to suspect that her mechanical man servant can develop thoughts of his own. They slowly fall in love with one another, in the most rapid way two people can slowly fall in love. However, to prevent a war with the neighboring nation, she has promised her hand in marriage to their cruel prince. She must decide whether to follow her heart, tear an entire people's belief system apart, and inevitably lead her nation to war by pursuing her relationship with her automaton manservant OR maintain her duty to her nation, allow an entire race to be mistakenly enslaved by her countrymen, and endure life as the partner of a cruel leader who may destroy her country and its way of life. 

Is she holding a shoe?  Alternate universe retelling of Cinderella with a world half made of machines. 

"When 10-year-old Anica's science project goes awry, she learns that things are not always as they seem. Anica is whisked away to a secret kingdom where anything is possible with some cogs and elbow grease. There she discovers an unbelievable secret about her own past..."
sorry, not "her own past," "the human soul"
because she doesn't have one, bc she's a robot.

the truth 

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 turned her into a servant in her own home. 

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

tell me what you think, or suggest the next book in the comments! 


  1. This is a fun idea! I was a huge fan of Tides by Betsey Cornwell, so I already knew what Mechanica was about...but it's interesting that almost all the guesses had a fairytale element to them.

    1. Thanks! I was surprised about that too. I asked people what gave them the fairy tale idea. Apparently it was a combination of the birds, the tiara, and the shoe. Although I think the birds are actually dragonflies...