A review by redheadbeans
The Cobbler's Boy by Elizabeth Bear, Katherine Addison


An interesting read in Monette's back catalogue, if a kind of depressing one. I can't speak for how much this reflects on Bear, because I haven't read much of her work, but it reads enough like "The Goblin Emperor" that Monette's influence is obvious. It's also the most Christian of Monette's works I've read. Not in the sense that you'd have to be a believer to enjoy it, or that it's trying to convert you, but that it's the most set in the real world and focusing on what it's like to be a Christian in a heavily Christian world. I'm not Christian, so at times it was a Bit Much, but I was able to push past it.

Monette writes a lot of fiction that involves gay men dealing with homophobic worlds, and that's present here, and well-written, as usual. CW references to spoilers for "The Doctrine of Labyrinths", "The Witness for the Dead", and "The Bone Key"
SpoilerIt's also oddly the most positive of her works about gay men: Kit does end up with his lover, with the potential for future trysts, and no evidence that they'll break up or hate each other. This is in contrast with her other queer male leads that I've read: Felix, Booth, and Thara, all of whom end up alone. I say oddly because it just had a kind of... sad air about it? Kit has a hopeful future, but he's still shackled to his father, and his hopes of being more intimate with his boyfriend are ground to dust under having to support his family, which is really only his problem because his father nearly murdered his own apprentice. Yes, he'd still have to support his family anyway, but it's... frustrating that so much of his life will be shackled to his abusive father. So in that sense, despite the hopefulness of the end of the story, I find "Corambis" far less depressing than this, despite the fact that Felix is alone (with hints of maybe being with Murtagh in the future), than this, where Kit is still with Ginger, because at least Felix is free of his abusers.

The cast is fun, and the plot itself is mostly enjoyable. I'm not a fan of detective fiction, but this does a neat job of making a mystery.

If you're a fan of "The Doctrine of Labyrinths" or "The Goblin Emperor" and want more Monette/Addison, this might be for you. It's a nice little read, but a bit depressing and VERY Christian.