Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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. Rossamnd 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 Rossamnd 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. Rossamnd'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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Cornish gives the Dickensian orphan story an original spin....At the close, the protagonist is poised for his next adventure, with enough secrets, promises, and mystery to create impatient demand." Booklist (Starred Review)
"This epic fantasy...flounders under cluttered writing....Fine story and universe, but overblown, especially the 100-page glossary and largely unnecessary appendices." Kirkus Reviews
"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." Children's Literature
The orphan Rossamnd--a boy with a girl's name--begins his journey through theperilous Half-Continent where the human race lives in perpetual conflict withmonsters of every shape and description. G.P. Putnam's Sons
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.
About 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.