Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1)
D. M. Cornish
Penguin Group (2007)
Reviewed by Rachael Stein (age 15) for Reader View (1/09)
As a foundling, Rossamünd Bookchild has lived a rather boring and sheltered life, his only excitement coming from the wild tales in the pamphlets he loves to read or his dormitory master Fransitart. Rossamünd yearns for a life of adventure, perhaps as a soldier or vinegaroon, his wild imagination only encouraged by the fantastical stories he reads and hears about, but when he is contracted to work as a lamplighter in the service of the Emperor, all that changes. Rossamünd is thrown out into the world when his seemingly simple journey to begin his training goes wrong, and he finds himself amongst all kinds of characters, from teratologists to sedorners, smugglers of the dark trades to lahzars, even monsters! But even if Rossamünd is living out his dreams, he’s about to realize that the world he never truly knew is much more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.
Author D. M. Cornish has created an entire new world in this first installment in his “Monster Blood Tattoo” series. This is quite an amazing feat, even if some aspects of this new world seem borrowed from epics like “Lord of the Rings” and “Narnia” – that is as interesting as it is confusing. The specialized terminology and foreign names take a while to get used to, and most readers will probably have to refer to the Explicarium, a glossary of sorts, to fully understand the lingo. I found some of the descriptions of these new creations rather lengthy and unnecessary, especially when talking about physical appearances, because there were illustrations to go with most of the characters. Despite that, Cornish successfully invented a world of danger and intrigue to satisfy fans of fantasy.
The plot and character development are sufficient to propel the tale forward. I commend the unique plotline; it successfully retained my attention with its high action. Most of the characters were easy to understand and their oddities made them memorable, particularly protagonist Rossamünd and the lahzar Europe. Cornish writes such strong characters including young Rossamünd who was a little feminine at times thought not due to his female name.
Though I can’t truly call this book, “Foundling,” an epic, fans of the epic tales in “Lord of the Rings,” “Narnia,” and “Eragon” will enjoy this story as well. “Foundling” by D. M. Cornish is sure to be a hit among all fantasy lovers.