For the full review, see SFRevu in April!
Rossamund Bookchild narrowly survived his journey to become a lamplighter in Foundling, book one of Monster-Blood Tattoo by D.M. Cornish. Now he's reached his destination-- but what new dangers await this orphan boy?
Training to become a lamplighter, Rossamund makes new friends-- such as the irascible girl-lighter Threnody and half-mad but lovable Numps--while inadvertantly delving into a plot that endangers the whole Empire. Can he survive being posted to the furthest, most dangerous billet the lamplighters have to offer? And what mysteries surround Rossamund himself?
D.M. Cornish continues to astound and delight in this second novel. It might be a bit intimidating for a series to jump from 300 pages (in Foundling) to 600 pages in Lamplighter, but the tale is engaging and the narrative compelling from start to finish. The summary above barely does justice to the extended subplots, engagements, elements and information-packed chapters of the story; it is a lush tale, set in a deeply-realized and refreshingly original fantasy world.
Cornish also liberally spices up the story with his own pencil artwork, as well as an elaborate series of appendices (which are greatly welcome, considering how many esoteric terms he creates). Readers truly get their money's worth in this volume.
Cornish has devised an intricate mystery at the heart of the story so far, one that is playing out at a leisurely pace. What is the secret of the dark trades, which undermine the law and order of the Haacobin Empire? And why is Europe so intent on Rossamund's service that she... well, that part would be telling.
In any event, this delightful, adventurous and wholly original series is certain to please even the most demanding readers.