Nicolette lives the typical Cinderella life. She isn't treated well by her stepmother and stepsisters. Actually, she is their slave. But on her sixteenth birthday, everything changes. She finds a letter that her mother has written and somehow delivered from the grave. Her mother was an inventor, and behind a secret door in the cellar, her workshop is still intact. Nicolette begins spending as much time as she can in the workshop reading her mother’s notes and exploring some of her inventions. And the inventions are fascinating -- and magical. Nicolette doesn't understand how these mechanical creatures work, but they seem alive although made of metal and glass. She even gets some magical help with her chores so she can spend more time in the workshop.
She begins creating her own devices and dreams of someday leaving her stepmother and supporting herself. Then she wants to make enough money to buy the place from her, because she must have the workshop. Although Nicolette does end up making some friends who secretly help her, there is no fairy godmother. Nicolette gets herself to the ball and, more importantly, to the exposition where she hopes to find someone to finance her magical inventions. She must be very careful because fairy magic has been outlawed by the king. She has some setbacks, but in the end prevails.
It's pretty obvious who the prince is, but hey, we all know the story so watching Nicolette figure it out is still fun. The ending is a "happily ever after" but not in the traditional sense. Those who are fans of Cinderella, middle school or older, will certainly enjoy this enchanting retelling. Readers will love Nicolette’s strength and determination and are sure to get lost in this engaging story. Girl Power!
Published by Clarion Books, August 4, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss and Library Media Connection Magazine
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