Cathedral Child is many things at once: an exploration of scientific discovery, a clever adventure with an evil villain, and my favorite, a romantic story of young love. Parrish has come to the rural West to build an “analytical engine” in a cathedral. Once his illegitimate daughter Glory gets involved with the computer prototype, it awakens into much more. At the same time, Glory and Sumner, Parrish’s adopted son, are growing up together and falling in love.
There are a number of insightful themes developed throughout the book, many dealing with intellect and spirituality. The idea that we create our own reality underlies the development of Cathedral, as does the nature of legacies, both natural (descendants) and artificial (inventions). Communication might not always happen the way we expect, as seen both through events in the book and the creator’s use of symbolism and mood. The peaches, especially, were a great way to show innocent sexuality in a joyful way.
My favorite part was the beautiful way the children were portrayed. Such realism could only come from experiencing first-hand the way little ones see the world and express themselves. Their dialogue is charming and funny with true emotion. It was obviously observed, not invented.
That plays into the way the kids, growing up with new technology, find themselves speaking its language. They connect to it in a much more innate, natural way than the adults who come to it later in life. They’re more involved with it than even the people who invented it.
The books reward repeated reading and close attention. Lea Hernandez has thought through her creations, building, to quote her characters, a “marriage of art & technology”.
She has also written the how-to guide Manga Secrets.