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Foundling: Monster Blood Tattoo Book One    by D. M. Cornish order for
by D. M. Cornish
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2007 (2006)

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*   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

The book Monster Blood Tattoo by D. M. Cornish is the beginning of an adventure in a fantasy world of men versus monsters. This first book in the series, Foundling, begins with young Rossamünd's defeat in hand to hand combat at the orphanage where he lives. Instantly the reader is thrust into the pages of this harsh world, made all the more difficult for Rossamünd by the fact that he is a sensitive boy with a girl's name.

When Rossamünd is older he is approached to become a lamplighter, a job which seems neither exciting nor stimulating to a boy who has dreamt of life as a sailor. Yet with few options open to an orphan he sets off on his journey to serve the Emperor in this position. The best laid plans go awry and Rossamünd finds himself captured on a smuggler's ship, only to escape and find himself rescued by a woman who battles monsters for a living. Rossamünd must decide whether he wants to follow the path of a lamplighter or become an assistant to Europa, the monster slayer.

D. M. Cornish creates a very detailed fantastic world. The book contains backstory and definitions about the different types of beasts and human mutations sprinkled throughout the pages. It features a hundred-page Explicarium of data and maps that detail the realm of monsters, ways of monster hunters, and the battles of the ages. With so much information however, the book gets waylaid and seems merely a vehicle to convey facts, albeit imaginative ones.

Perhaps in future books of the series, this won’t be an issue, but to this reader it was a distraction. And just as Rossamünd becomes a bit more of a character with a personality and a spine, the reader turns the final page. Rossamünd's story hardly seems to start before it abruptly ends, which is a bit frustrating just as one is getting engrossed.

2nd Review by Ricki Marking-Camuto (Rating:3):

The Harry Potter craze has given rise to numerous new series of YA fantasies on a similar theme. At first, D. M. Cornish's Monster Blood Tattoo looks like it might be one of these copycats, but after the first chapter or so of Foundling, it turns into a unique, and very well thought out, adventure.

Rossamünd Bookchild has spend all his life at Madame Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls, studying to become a vinageroon, or sailor on the vinegar seas. Unfortunately, Rossamünd, having been teased his whole life for his girl's name, does not possess the constitution needed for a vinegaroon. Instead, when he comes of age, he is offered a job as a Lamplighter – which he believes is a boring military position. On his way to report for duty, Rossamünd learns that the hardships he faced at Madame Opera's are nothing compared to those in the real world. No sooner is he out on his own than he ends up a semi-prisoner on a river boat full of contraband. After a daring escape, he is left wandering the countryside, hiding from various monsters that roam free, until he is picked up by the lazhar Europe, a beautiful woman whose body has been manipulated to use electricity to attack monsters. Rossamünd starts to question Europe's work, but realizes that if he is ever going to reach the Lamplighter offices, he needs all the protection he can get.

Foundling starts off a little slowly as Cornish introduces the reader to Rossamünd and his world. However, most of the exposition is over, the story really takes off. All of Cornish's characters are unique, making it easy to picture them without the added illustrations. These characters help create a tale that is fresh and different, letting the imagination freely play over Cornish's heavily thought-out fantasy realm. Fantasy-lovers will relish meeting and traveling with Rossamünd in Foundling, and eagerly await his further adventures in the second Monster Blood Tattoo novel, Lamplighter. D. M. Cornish's detailed world rivals some of those created by classic fantasy authors, making the book a treat for new and old fans alike.

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