Two and a half years.

That’s how long I’ve been waiting for Factotum, the third installment of D.M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy.

The book’s due Thursday, and nothing—but nothing!—will stand in the way of my reading it. Not work, or school, or sleep, or unforeseen emergencies. Come to think of it, I’d better double my order, or it might get ugly at the homestead. My husband is also a huge fan. But I digress.


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LOVE THIS TRILOGY? Monster Blood Tattoo is not the only series coming to an end in 2010. For a sneak peek at a portion of Kirkus' 2010 Best Books for Teens, check out these stellar series-ending titles here.


For those of you who are wondering, “What the crap is she going on about NOW?” let me enlighten you. In a word, Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo series is AWESOME.

It’s set on the Half-Continent (And, yes, fans of the Fantasy Epic, there are maps! Multiple appendices! Fantastic illustrations by the author! Lots of dialect!), a tiny portion of a larger (as-yet-unseen by us) world that could be briefly described as Dickensian steampunk with wigs, tri-cornered hats and biologically driven machinery. Oh, and of course, monsters.

Our hero is Rossamünd, a boy with a girl’s name. An orphan brought up in Madam Opera’s Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls, raised to dream of serving in the Emperor’s Navy, he is very much surprised—and somewhat disappointed—when he is instead offered employment as a lamplighter.

Foundling tells the story of Rossamünd’s journey to Winstermill, the headquarters of the lamplighters. The trip is supposed to be a quick and uneventful one, but one mistake results in Rossamünd’s sudden and violent introduction to the world outside of Madam Opera’s—a world that turns out to be more full of monsters, human and otherwise, than any midnight-dormitory tales could have ever led him to believe. During his journey to Winstermill, his encounters with bogles and the charismatic-yet-troubling woman who fights them, smugglers and snobs and an open-minded postman lead Rossamünd to start questioning everything he’s ever been taught.

The story continues in Lamplighter. Rossamünd undergoes training, witnesses the internal politics of the guild, continues to work at the same questions from the first book and starts to discover secrets about his past.

As much as I want to know how this trilogy will be resolved, I’m already desperately hoping that Cornish will continue with the Half-Continent—that he’ll tell me more stories—because it’s a world so fully realized and so rich, so full of potential, that I would weep if it was really all over. Weep, I say. Even if Factotum is The End of It All, though, I’m going to read it the second I have it in my hands. Highly recommended to fans of Philip Pullman, J. R. R. Tolkien and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

To those of you who haven’t begun to explore this world, I’m jealous. Not only do you have a wholly original, hugely compelling and completely engrossing trilogy to dive into, you have an opportunity that I didn’t—you can achieve instant gratification by grabbing all three and reading them back-to-back. Something I might seriously do after reading Factotum.


When she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is probably curled up by the woodstove, reading.