Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling by D.M. Cornish, 2006
Monster Blood Tattoo was a complete surprise. The story of the young Rossamünd Bookchild, is an interesting and engrossing read. The mood, tone and characters are very Dickensian. D.M. Cornish has amplified the effect with his own illustrations that evoke George Cruikshank and Phiz.
Rossamünd is small for his age and afflicted with a regrettable name. He is facing the day he will be apprenticed with a mixture of anxiety and hope. Raised with relative kindness in an orphanage, he dreads leaving the protection of the mothering Verline and the tough old sailor, Fransitart. Rossamünd dreams of becoming a sailor and battling monsters just like the heroes in the stories he reads. He soon learns he will be employed as a lamplighter though and he accepts his new future.
His first steps into the wider world of the Half-Continent land him in danger and at the mercy of a brutal smuggler. The Half-Continent is a world where people are set on exterminating the monsters that roam the countryside. Rossamünd begins to doubt the stories of monster horror he has heard all his life when he encounters a beautiful but strange lahzar or monster hunter named Miss Europe.
This novel is a prelude and ended much too quickly. I thought I had a goodly number of pages left to read but the last third of the book is a glossary of terms or “explicarium.”
Cornish has set us up for the next book, perfectly. We know we have not seen the last of the brutal Gosling, Rossamünd’s nemesis from the orphanage and what is the secret Fransitart needs to tell Rossamünd?
I know the striking cover and title will resonate with teens. Last week I was driving some of my daughter’s friends home, when one of the kids saw the book next to her on the back seat. She was immediately drawn to the book (“Woah, look at this!” to quote exactly) and was very happy when I told her she could take it home with her.