Foundling: Rich characterization, excellent world-building

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review YA D.M. Cornish Monster Blood Tattoo FoundlingFoundling by D.M. Cornish

Contrary to its daunting size, Foundling is a fun story about a boy with a girl’s name. Rossamund is a Bookchild, meaning he was raised as an orphan, and the only record of his existence is recorded in the book of names at the orphanage. Rossamund is an older child at the orphanage, as he has not yet been chosen to go out into the world and work for whoever chooses him. When he is finally called upon, he is a little downhearted to hear that he is to be a lamplighter. A lamplighter, as the name implies, lights the lamps that run down either side of the busy streets to keep monsters at bay. Rossamund does not think this is a very exciting occupation, and he certainly doesn’t expect the getting there to be the real adventure.

The beautifully detailed maps, the rich characterization, and the sheer complexity of the world Mr. Cornish has created show that he has put much time, effort, and love into the creation of Foundling.

My “qualms” are small, but there are a few. Firstly, I think Mr. Cornish underestimates himself! He will have painted a wonderfully suspenseful scene, the tension mounts as the reader is gripped to the story, but instead of rolling with this truly believable feeling, an exclamation mark is thrown in! This extra punctuation (for me) throws of the climactic feeling and makes it feel more unreal! It seems the author is trying to put “the icing on the cake” so to speak, trying to play up the suspense of the event, but the author had already wonderfully crafted it with great feeling and emotion! There are enough of these instances for it to be noticeable!

Second, the Mr. Cornish is very inventive. This plays to his advantage on most fronts, but when it comes to made-up words, it gets complicated. This book is FULL of made up words, which is why there is a small dictionary at the end. To me, these words became very complicated as many of them sound alike. This made it a tad confusing when many of them are used in the same paragraph.

Lastly, well… there is no lastly. Foundling is a great book. The characters were amazing. No clichés here, every character was an individual, unique, deep, stirring, even if you only met them briefly — simply beautiful characters. Also, the world building in this novel is exceptional. From the breathtaking wilds, to the vinegar-smelling sea. Once you get past the first few confusing words, the story’s depth and amazing characters will not disappoint.

Monster Blood Tattoo (Foundling’s Tale) — (2007-2010) Young adult. Publisher: Set in the world of the Half-Continent — a land of tri-corner hats and flintlock pistols — the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy is a world of predatory monsters, chemical potions and surgically altered people. Foundling begins the journey of Rossamund, a boy with a girl’s name, who is just about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor. What starts as a simple journey is threatened by encounters with monsters — and people, who may be worse. Learning who to trust and who to fear is neither easy nor without its perils, and Rossamund must choose his path carefully. Complete with appendices, maps, illustrations, and a glossary, Monster Blood Tattoo grabs readers from the first sentence and immerses them in an entirely original fantasy world with its own language and lore.

D.M. Cornish Monster Blood Tatoo: 1. Foundling 2. LamplighterD.M. Cornish Monster Blood Tatoo: 1. Foundling 2. Lamplighterfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews


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SKYE WALKER, who has been on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (after a brief time on staff as a YA reviewer in 2007-2008), is from Canada. Their HBA in Anthropology and Communications allowed them to write an Honours paper on podcasting as the modern oral tradition of storytelling: something they will talk about at any and all opportunities. Skye is a communications professional in the non-profit sector. These days their favourite authors include Ursula K Le Guin, Bo Bolander, and Chris Wooding. They can be found on social media @tskyewalker

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