Series: Foundling's Tale

FACTOTUM by D.M. Cornish
Released: Oct. 1, 2010

Cornish finishes off his Foundling's Tale trilogy (originally dubbed Monster Blood Tattoo) while repeatedly coming perilously close to finishing off his central characters in a riveting string of brangles with bogles and even more vicious human foes. Taking Tolkien-esque pains to lay out his setting—like the previous episodes, this one closes with nearly 100 pages of new maps, charts, elegant fashion plates and invented vocabulary—the author sends deceptively human-looking protagonist Rossamünd and his new employer, the prickly and renowned monster-slayer Europe, to the great city of Brandenbrass, then out monster-hunting into the countryside in an effort to escape a powerful crime lord and finally back to Brandenbrass for a hard-fought final struggle. Along with many splendid names (Pragmathës Carp, Anaesthesia Myrrh) and linguistic fancies (the art of reanimating corpses is dubbed "fabercadavery,") the author laces his rococo but fluent narrative with moral and ethical conundrums, twists both terrible and tongue in cheek, startling revelations about humans and "monsters" alike and sturdy themes of loyalty, courage and self-realization. Readers new to the series should start with the first volume; fans will be more than satisfied. (Fantasy. 12-15, adult)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2008

Cornish again buries a likable protagonist and perfectly viable plot under a mountain of obscure words and pretentious prose in this overweight sequel (Foundling, 2006). Young Rossamünd has begun his apprenticeship as a lamplighter, venturing out daily to light and douse highway lamps. With monsters everywhere, lamplighters are also fighters, killing every bugaboo, bogle and nicker in sight. Challenging society's pure hatred of monsters is criminal, but Rossamünd privately doubts this dogma, having met one personally. Meanwhile, corrupt, high-ranking officials covertly create zombie-like monsters from discarded organs. Cornish characterizes Rossamünd with a light touch, fear and sadness mingling with hints about unusual roots, as he does Numps, mentally wounded from a monster attack and living underground with his "friend," a plant that makes lamps glow. However, the turgid narrative voice clashes with Rossamünd's gentleness as he ponders moral subtleties in a forcefully verbose prose, crammed with archaic English words on top of a fantasy terminology that apparently requires a 94-page glossary (which, despite its length, often fails to clarify). (glossary, appendices) (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >
FOUNDLING by D.M. Cornish
Released: May 1, 2006

This epic fantasy, though solidly based in classic form (lonely orphan may secretly be someone special), flounders under cluttered writing. Rossamünd, a boy with a girl's name and an unknown past, is sent from his "foundlingery" to earn his living as a lamplighter. Rather than sailing or slaying monsters (as he desires), he'll light and douse highway lamps. However, things go wrong immediately. Before reaching the lamplighting destination, Rossamünd leaps off a boat, fights monsters and bonds with an imposing monster-slayer named Europe, who's had surgery on her internal organs so she can zap monsters with electricity from her body. This society scorns anyone who suggests sympathy for the monsters that lurk everywhere; however, Rossamünd begins to wonder whether they're all really bad. Cornish's ongoing phonetic spelling of dialect detracts heavily from dialogue and flow. Fine story and universe, but overblown, especially the 100-page glossary and largely unnecessary appendices. (maps, metric conversion table, sketches, glossary, appendices) (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >