Review: Monster Blood Tattoo; Foundling, D M Cornish

15 Mar

foundling“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.”

Foundling is one of the most beautiful YA novels I’ve ever read. I adored it. It’s a breathtaking read.

Cornish must have put an unbelievable amount of work into this, it’s just bursting at the seams with all the love and attention you can tell has been heavily lavished upon it. There’s an enormous glossary, there are extensive appendices, and there are maps like you wouldn’t believe. The illustrations are to die for, and are presented with a level of care and detail that exactly mirrors the prose. It really is a beautifully realised work of outstanding imagination.

To my mind, this is the perfect ‘starter’ novel for anyone contemplating a future reading Epic Fantasy. I would love, LOVE, my son to read this book when he’s a bit older (3 might be pushing it). Initially it does read as being perhaps on the youngest point of the YA scale, but as the novel progresses things do get darker, and there are some violent passages, which coupled with the complexity of the language bumps it up to cover just about any age’s preference, IMHO. I could see a 12 year old adoring this, and an 80 year old having a blast with it too. It’s a Universal pleasure for anyone who has a love of language and a delight for stories.

It made a nice change here to see some three dimensional, non-stereotypical, genuinely influential female characters driving the plot. This is a rare enough pleasure in Adult Fantasy, but even more so in YA.

The language of the novel has got to be, for me, its biggest advantage. Cornish’s prose is rich, varied and challenging. It’s imaginative, evocative, and utterly glorious. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see vocabulary like this used in YA, so much of the time all I see is writing dumbed down to what feels like the lowest possible denominator, and Cornish is the perfect antidote to that kind of popular condescension. This coupled with the intricate detail of the novel could well make it daunting for some younger readers, but that’s a Good, Good thing. The beautiful simplicity of the story will draw them in, and before they know it they’ll be learning some amazing new words and devouring a 400 page novel. And it’ll prepare them nicely for the second one, which weighs in at a whopping 700. If you want your young ‘uns to develop an early taste for the good stuff, this is a series you definitely want to sneak onto their shelves.

Foundling is a sophisticated tale set in a unique world, and it showcases some of the most compellingly delicious writing I’ve ever read. This is YA as it should be done!  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

5A PhoenixFantasy Five Star read

[Foundling is published by Corgi Childrens, and is available in Paperback and Electronic format]

1 Comment

Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Reviews


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One response to “Review: Monster Blood Tattoo; Foundling, D M Cornish

  1. Anya

    July 18, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Oo, I just got a recommendation for this one, make that two 😀


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