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Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, #1)
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(Monster Blood Tattoo #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  7,408 ratings  ·  690 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 ...more
Hardcover, 434 pages
Published May 18th 2006 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  7,408 ratings  ·  690 reviews

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Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
By this point I think the nation's readers of children's fantasy novels have hit a kind of boredom plateau. You get a new fantasy on your desk and you have to tick off the requirements. Alternate world? Orphaned hero or heroine? School for the extraordinary? To a certain extent, a lot of these tried and true stand-bys are essential to a good book. There's a reason they exist, after all. But after reading a bunch of them, reviewers like myself get a little jaded. Kids think everything's new, so ...more
James Trevino
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was such a great, different read. It is what YA should be: thrilling, engaging and with mind blowing world building. It is also a dense read. It sometimes felt like a Tolkien book (there are 100+ pages of Appendix at the end and I loved every world of it + several maps!).
I will start the next one right away.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for

MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO is an unusual book. Even before I delved into it, I was struck by some of the ways that it's different from other young adult fantasy novels. For one thing, more than a quarter of the book is taken up with an extensive glossary and other appendices. It is also sprinkled with art - typically sketches of characters in the novel. So even before reading a word of the story, I was curious. Surely such an unusual book would be
Nathaniel Lee
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is what "young adult" fiction should be, by all rights. The vocabulary was rich and liberally sprinkled with neologisms that tickled my etymologist's fancy, and the writing was lucid and flowing, keeping me involved with ease.

I was particularly enchanted by the world details that slipped into place; the complex, quasi-magical chemistry; the "vinegar seas" whose acidic waters gave sailors their rugged, pit-faced appearance; the boats powered by "gastrines," basically vat-grown muscles in
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Found this one at the library and picked it up for a listen. I found it quite good. The worldbuilding was thorough, including a lexicon of terms especially adapted to the storyline. It's not quite steampunk (no steam tech), but that's probably as close a designation as I can use. There is some advanced tech, including enhanced humans, and primitive gadgetry, and some mad science type elements that bring to mind the steampunk aesthetic, so there you have it. Rossamund was a really great ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
.....yeah, I gave it 5 stars, huh. Sort of surprised me to.

I didn't go into this expecting a 5 star read. For a while I was even very annoyed with the main character...Rossamünd Bookchild, the boy with the girl's name. (I don't want to spoil the book for anyone especially as I think it's an excellent read, really a great read). Anyway, for a while I was so annoyed with the kid I wanted to slap him up-side the head and say, "think"!

But then I took a deep breath...calmed myself and thought, "how
Destiny Moccetti
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
*Before I delve in to this review... I admit to being a tad bias. Monster Blood Tattoo has since become one of my favourite series of all time. The rating of this book also depends on the inclinations of the reader... if you are not a fantasy book fan or have trouble immersing in imaginary worlds, you will not like this book.*


Having read the entire series through, I feel that despite the hero being a young boy, Monster Blood Tattoo may not be appreciated by the average
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a re-read, as I've been reading the series aloud to my youngest son, who adores all things large, scary and monstrous. The story meanders around a bit at first (rather like its boy hero, in fact!), and the prose can be unnecessarily florid and at times nearly opaque in its lavish use of invented vocabulary. But I've said, and I'll stand by my assertion, that D.M. Cornish is the most comprehensive and immersive world-builder since Tolkien.

He's also created a fantastic array of distinct
Robin Wiley
Tolkien loved inventing languages, and designed Middle Earth, and wrote Lord of the Rings to have someplace to put those languages.

DM Cornish is an illustrator, and has been drawing characters, creatures and maps for years, and wrote this book to have someplace to put them.

The world, called the Half Continent - is GINORMOUS. The map is roughly 8 x 10, and the book covers about a square inch...of the world, and this is the first book. Lots of potential here.

World of Dickens, with alchemy and iron
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
I'm not really sure waht to say about this book. It wasn't bad, really, but it wasn't very good, either. I think some of the ideas and people were interesting enough that it could've been better - even though there were some times where I was rolling my eyes because the conveniences and stupidity at times sort of strained credulity.

One of the things I liked most about the book was (view spoiler)
Leanne C
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just as good the second time!
Sue Smith
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
There aren't too many books that I come across and get totally surprised by,but this one happened to be one of them. Don't ask me why exactly - I think there were a number of factors that played into the whole.

Firstly, it goes without saying that I love a book with maps. I have this NEED to see where they are and what's around them - regardless if it's real or ficticious. I'm visual and I like to 'see'. Such a silly thing really, but I don't know how many books I've read that I've wished they'd
Courtney Nicole
•I messed up with this book.
•Usually when I know I'm going to give up on a book I get ready to search how it ends because although I don't want to spend anymore time reading it, sometimes I still want to know (quickly) how everything turned out. Well, for this one, before I even decided fully I wanted to stop reading It I had already found myself reading the summary of the book.. Whoops. I guess subconsciously I did end up deciding.
•I at least gave it until 1/3 of the way through! (By the
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
There are very few teen fantasy titles that come along that I find myself raving to all my co-workers about. And I mean ALL of my co-workers. I don't care if you haven't read a teen novel in years, I'm throwing this one at you.

The unfortunately named Rossamund (yes, he's a boy and we'll call him Rosie for short) is a foundling, raised in an orphanage where he has little hope of any real future but dreams of a life at sea. Fate, however, has other things in store for him--Rosie has been tapped to
I really wanted to like this book. The author's illustrations were evocative and he obviously spent a lot of time developing the world. The problem is: I think he spent too much time world building and not enough story building. The whole book reads like one long introduction. The author spends so much time inventing new pseudo-Germanic words for things (including a lot of things, like lanterns and history, that already have names) that a quarter of the book is taken up by the glossary even ...more
May 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Merrilee by: Tama Wise
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I was actually more than a little disappointed by this book. Cornish has built a wonderful world, full of fascinating people and places. Unfortunately he felt the need to share every detail with the reader. This book was not so much a novel as a prologue, and for two-thirds of the book, the main character Rossamund just wanders around, having things happen to him.

When he finally gets a little gumption and the story starts moving, the novel ends. And the last 120 pages are glossaries.

I can see
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so happy to know there are two more books in this series. I cannot wait to read them. Not since Harry Potter have I been pulled into such a peculiar world filled with lahzars, fulgars, leers, bogles, and nuglugs. DM Cornish has created a magical place without having any mention of magic, wizardry, or dark arts. I highly recommend this book for those that like to escape into a fictional world of amazing complex characters and grand scenes. It is a must read!
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, children-s
I tried so hard to read this fantasy but it was just a little too "precious." D.M. Cornish had his own illustration--very nice. Boy with a girl's name is raised in Madam Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls. Lots of made up vocabulary and I just couldn't get into it. This is the first book of several and I think that children of 9-11 with the patience to read "clever" writing might like it a lot more than I did.
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Full review:

Pretty much, not sure why I gave this book 2 whole stars. It's a gigantic info dump, a character that acts and is treated like a child much younger than I think he was actually supposed to be. It's message is as subtle as a billy club to the face. The concept was the only thing about this book that worked for me.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
Rossamund, a boy abandoned as a baby, is raised as a foundling in an orphanaged. When he gets older, he is recruited to be trained as a Lamplighter. But the boy gets on the wrong ship and the adventures start.

This is the first book in a series and felt very incomplete to me. I realize they are setting the stage for many future adventures and introducing characters (some of which are very interesting like Europe, the monster killer, and Fouracres) But this book really failed to excite me.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to join the Monster Blood Cult - that's how much I loved this book! I can't believe this wasn't on my radar having been published so long ago. It is clever and emotional and tumultuous and thoughtful and adventurous. It's delicious to discover such a gem! I'm sorry I didn't get to it sooner since I think my life is richer having experienced Cornish's world and his main character, Rossamund with the pink lips. This has all the markings of a story that I love - hero/heroine quest, ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ernest by: David
I appreciated what the author was trying to do in the book, and some of the interactions and scenarios were mildly interesting in a broader perspective, but I was overall not captured by this book. Perhaps I am not the target audience for this book – it is a young adult book and while this doesn’t disqualify it from being a worthwhile read, it would be unrealistic to ignore this fact. Perhaps this book was not what I wanted (knowingly or not) to read at the time - if I wanted a much deeper book ...more
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Well that sounds interesting, doesn’t it? I certainly thought it did! And it's the best place to start because that blurb drew me in pretty quickly. Unfortunately that piece is a bit misleading. I don’t know about you but from reading that, I thought those would be adventures he’d be taking while working as a lamplighter. It certainly insinuates that, don’t you think?

But that would have to be a no. The whole book, all 311 (not including the 121 pages of reference) pages, is about Rossamund
Rossamünd Bookchild, a foundling, has been conscripted to serve the continent as a Lamplighter, who keeps travelers safe on their way through the roads of the continent... But first he has to make it there.

I love this book enormously. The world building in this story is amazing, down to the last details. Cornish, primarily an illustrator, included character and monster illustrations throughout the story to add even more depth. Not only does this volume have maps of this fictional world, there's
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Fantasy and Steampunk, in that order. Young persons.
More like 312 pages of story and 136 pages of Glossary/Appendix that probably meant more to the author than the reader. I admit, I didn't read the Glossary/Appendix, I only skimmed through bits.
Most items were already explained (or easily guessed at) in the story and the rest was a massive info dump of past events not worth talking about in the actual story because they were not really relevant except to maybe the author... So, no thanks. Cornish's sketches were interesting bit, but honestly
Amber Scaife
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rosamund is a foundling, a stray child, who has been raised in a foundlingery (an orphanage, of sorts) to become a sailor, but is instead hire out as a lamplighter. This first book in the Monster Blood Tattoo series tells the story of his adventure-filled journey from the orphanage to his new job, during which he meets monsters, a monster-fighter, wicked sailors, a brave postman, and a scary and mysterious guy who wears a box on his head.
The world-building in this first book is amazing and so
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this series was a joke. Something from McGee and Me or something. I'm not into horror and my assumption was that this wouldn't interest me in the least. (This is the same reason I hated "The Village" at first...) I won't spoil anything but it's not a blood-soaked tale that inspires kids to go get tattoos...

Great story with teachable moments throughout. Maybe a little much for my 7 year old, but eventually I think it'll be a fun adventure book with good morals.
Sheridan Kunde
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love the world creation and the effort that has gone into making this book such an immersive and complete experience for the reader.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i think this was a childhood fave purely because i had a giant crush on europe but anyway i loved this
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D. M. Cornish (born 1972) is a fantasy author and illustrator from Adelaide, South Australia. His first book is Foundling, the first part of the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy. The second book named Lamplighter was released in May 2008. The third in the series is yet to be named.

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

Other books in the series

Monster Blood Tattoo (3 books)
  • Lamplighter (Monster Blood Tattoo, #2)
  • Factotum (Monster Blood Tattoo, #3)