Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo Series #1)

Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo Series #1)

4.6 49
by D. M. Cornish

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Meet Rossamünd-a foundling, a boy with a girl's name who is about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor of the Half-Continent. What starts as a simple journey becomes a dangerous and complicated set of battles and decisions. Humans, monsters, unearthly creatures . . . who among these can Rossamünd trust? D. M. Cornish has created an

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Meet Rossamünd-a foundling, a boy with a girl's name who is about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor of the Half-Continent. What starts as a simple journey becomes a dangerous and complicated set of battles and decisions. Humans, monsters, unearthly creatures . . . who among these can Rossamünd trust? D. M. Cornish has created an entirely original world, grounded in his own deft, classically influenced illustrations. Foundling is a magic-laced, Dickensian adventure that will transport the reader.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Gives the Dickensian orphan story an original spin...Expertly envisioned and peopled with intriguing characters. (Booklist, starred review)
Publishers Weekly
Highly ambitious, Cornish's fantasy debut boasts a glossary/appendix alone that is more than 100 pages long-and it makes for nearly as fascinating reading as the story itself. Rossamend Bookchild ("a boy with a girl's name"), is an orphan living at Madam Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls, where instructors groom the orphans to serve in the Boschenberg Navy and other agencies. One day a stranger with odd eyes arrives ("What should have been white was blood red, and his irises were the palest, most piercing blue.... a leer!") and hires Rossamend as a "lamplighter" for the Emperor. (The boy identifies a leer as a tracker of men and monsters; the glossary offers further chilling details.) En route to his new job, he is misled into boarding a doomed boat, and winds up alone in a world where humans and monsters wage constant war. When a human kills a monster, he gets a "monster-blood tattoo," made from the beast's blood and bearing its likeness. Rossamend's action-packed road story serves chiefly to build and populate Cornish's remarkable new world, the Half-Continent. Its roots were planted in a series of illustrated notebooks the author began while attending art school. His drawings endow both humans and monsters with personality, and detailed maps plus a 16-month calendar year add to readers' sense that this milieu has existed for centuries. From the pre-industrial English feel to the sprawling setting and backstory, this book feels every bit as substantial as its heft implies. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A boy named Sue never had it as hard as a boy foundling named Rossamund. Life on the fantasy world of the Half-Continent offers few, if any, benefits to a young boy (with a girl's name) growing up in an orphanage. His lowly birth is balanced by a caring orphanage staff who offer him their blessings as he sets off to become a Lamplighter for the Empire. But as soon as he leaves their safe haven his adventures begin. He narrowly escapes getting shanghaied and finds himself in the company of one of the most famous monster slayers in his world. She shows him to more than he ever imagined before she sends him on his way to start his training. This first book of the "Monster Blood Tattoo" series ends with Rossamund entering into his Lamplighter training. It is an introduction to a fantasy epic set in a world that defies comparison. The unearthly and alien nature of Rossamund's world heightens the tension of the story as he travels relatively unguarded and unprepared. Rossamund witnesses motors driven by muscles in boxes, a caustic and dangerous 'vinegar' sea, and a monster slayer who can summon electricity with implanted organs. He also encounters monsters of every imaginable shape and size, some benign and some quite malignant. The vast amount of creativity poured into the first part of this series is evident in the 100 plus pages of illustrations, definitions, and appendices. Certainly Rossamund's further adventures will be worth reading. 2006, G. P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin, Ages 14 up.
—L. F. Wade
Rossamund, a boy with a girl's name, has never known life outside Madam Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys or Girls, but he longs to be a vinegaroon, a sailor on the vinegar seas of the Half-Continent. Instead he is approached with a job as a lamplighter for the Emperor. But in order to report for the job, he must make his way to High Vesting and negotiate shady rivermen who deal in body parts, monsters of all shapes and sizes who roam the countryside, and-maybe even most frightening-monster-slayers who use chemicals and have surgically altered their bodies to better fight the monsters. Rossamund, timid and prone to tears, must rely on himself and decide whom to trust. This first book in a trilogy presents a fantasy world remarkably well developed. Included in the book are maps, a 102-page glossary, appendixes, and the author's own illustrations of the characters. The descriptions are vivid and fascinating, but there is a sense that the book is merely an introduction to Rossamund and his Half-Continent world. Too many questions are left unanswered and characters not fully depicted at the end; presumably, they will be addressed in the sequels. Despite this sense of unfinished business, there is enough action that readers will be looking for the sequel. Although the cover and title alone is enough to compel many teen readers to pick up this book, those who stick with it will be treated to a sophisticated new world. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 434p.;Glossary. Illus. Maps. Charts. Appendix., Ages 11 to 18.
—Rebecca Hogue Wojahn
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This inventive debut novel follows Rossamend Bookchild, a foundling boy saddled with an unfortunate name, as he ventures out from his childhood home at the orphanage into the wide world of the Half-Continent, a Georgian-esque society where humans wage an unending battle against the shadowy "monsters" of the wilds. (The tattoo of the series title is the mark given to the slayer of such a beast.) During his journey from boy to man, Rossamend has his share of adventures, encounters a variety of colorful characters, and learns that the world is more complex and perilous than he was raised to believe. Including an extensive "Explicarium" (glossary) and pages of maps, diagrams, and character portraits, Cornish's world-building efforts show a depth and intricacy reminiscent of the work of J. R. R. Tolkien or Robert Jordan. While the elaborate jargon may bewilder some, the unique and fascinating Half-Continent, where ships with organic engines sail caustic vinegar oceans and monster-hunters gain supernatural powers through dangerous surgeries, is a delightful, refreshing standout in a sea of cookie-cutter fantasy worlds.-Christi Voth, Parker Library, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This epic fantasy, though solidly based in classic form (lonely orphan may secretly be someone special), flounders under cluttered writing. Rossamund, a boy with a girl's name and an unknown past, is sent from his "foundlingery" to earn his living as a lamplighter. Rather than sailing or slaying monsters (as he desires), he'll light and douse highway lamps. However, things go wrong immediately. Before reaching the lamplighting destination, Rossamund leaps off a boat, fights monsters and bonds with an imposing monster-slayer named Europe, who's had surgery on her internal organs so she can zap monsters with electricity from her body. This society scorns anyone who suggests sympathy for the monsters that lurk everywhere; however, Rossamund begins to wonder whether they're all really bad. Cornish's ongoing phonetic spelling of dialect detracts heavily from dialogue and flow. Fine story and universe, but overblown, especially the 100-page glossary and largely unnecessary appendices. (maps, metric conversion table, sketches, glossary, appendices) (Fantasy. 10-14)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Foundling's Tale Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.38(w) x 7.16(h) x 1.07(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Meet the Author

D.M. Cornish was born in time to see the first Star Wars movie. He was five. It made him realize that worlds beyond his own were possible, and he failed to eat his popcorn. Experiences with C.S. Lewis, and later J.R.R. Tolkien, completely convinced him that other worlds existed, and that writers had a key to these worlds. But words were not yet his earliest tools for storytelling. Drawings were.

He spent most of his childhood drawing, as well as most of his teenage and adult years as well. And by age eleven he had made his first book, called "Attack from Mars." It featured Jupitans and lots and lots of drawings of space battles. (It has never been published and world rights are still available.)

He studied illustration at the University of South Australia, where he began to compile a series of notebooks, beginning with #1 in 1993. He had read Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, The Iliad, and Paul Gallico's Love of Seven Dolls. Classical ideas as well as the great desire to continue what Mervyn Peake had begun but not finished led him to delineate his own world. Hermann Hesse, Kafka and other writers convinced him there were ways to be fantastical without conforming to the generally accepted notions of fantasy. Over the next ten years he filled 23 journals with his pictures, definitions, ideas and histories of his world, the Half-Continent.

It was not until 2003 that a chance encounter with a children's publisher gave him an opportunity to develop these ideas further. Learning of his journals, she bullied him into writing a story from his world. Cornish was sent away with the task of delivering 1,000 words the following week and each week thereafter. Abandoning all other paid work, he spent the next two years propped up with one small advance after the other as his publisher tried desperately to keep him from eating his furniture.

And so Rossamund's story was born - a labor of love over twelve years in the making.

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