Thursday, July 10, 2008


(Monster Blood Tatoo)
By D.M. Cornish
Putnam Books
736 pages

Last year I had the tremendous joy of discovering the world of Rossamund Bookchild, the orphan raised in a foundling home and at a young age sent out into a remarkable, alien world to seek his fortune as a royal lamplighter. Now if none of this makes any sense to you, it's because D.M. Cornish has invented an entire world to set his story in and it is a world like none you've ever encountered before.

The last time I enjoyed such a rich, complicated literary fabrication was J.K. Rawling's world of boy wizard Harry Potter. There's a lot of similarities between Potter and Bookchild. There's also a huge dose of Charles Dickens and lots and lots of J.R.R. Tolkien. Cornish has woven a unique world so rich in details that it completely swallows the reader with it's multiple layers of social, economic and political history. But the most important thing you need to know about the lad's world is that it has monsters; of all manner and variety.

In this second installment of what is to be a trilogy, young Rossamund arrives at the Lamplighter training hall to begin his training. Lamplighters are much like a national militia whose task it is to keep the empire's roadways well illuminated via a chain of lamppost that dot every single road in the empire, be they crowded municipal lanes or the off the map frontier paths. These brave men must keep the dark at bay, maintaining a tenuous grasp on civilization. Rossamund is proud to become one of them.

Yet as the story unfolds, he is witness to repeated monster attacks, their frequency puzzling to his superiors. He also discovers political corruption among the fort's command and a dark, terrible secret hidden within its walls. Fortunately he is not alone in his adventures being aided by a truly unusual group of physcially altererd characters. There is Thrednody, the young girl with the mental psychic abilities to hurt monsters, Sebastipole, the human lie-detector and the beautiful Europe, who can shoot lightning from her hands and is a famous monster-killer.

Like most readers, I'm always leery of long books by new writers. Having thoroughly enjoyed book one in this series, I was completely undadunted by this volume's 700 plus pages. I knew it would contain the maximum amount of adventure, thrills and wonder. I wasn't disappointed in the least. In fact, now that I've finished it, I can't wait for the final chapter and I hope it's even longer! You can never ever have too much of a good thing.

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