A Fantasy Book Review
Genre: Fantasy, Coming of Age, Monsters, 13+Publisher's Blurb:
Reading level: Grades 8-12
Publisher: Puffin (September 6, 2007)
Paperback: 448 pages
Read an Excerpt (Not a direct link. Link is on the page.)
Meet Rossamünd—a foundling, a boy with a girl’s name who is about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor of the Half-Continent.D. M. Cornish has succeeded in creating a truly unique world, something he admits has taken him many years to do. It shows. He writes so naturally in and about this world that you have no problem becoming a part of it. His main character is also well written. Now let me disabuse you of one notion, you may be thinking, "oh great, another orphan becomes a hero story." Not really. This is actually an orphan who dreams of becoming a hero but when he goes out into the world for the first time, he is happy just to learn how to survive. Rossamünd has some hard lessons to learn, about himself, about his world and about the difference between dreams and reality. He is basically a very gentle soul, happier inside his books then with other people, takes abuse without a word, never standing up for himself and yet dreams of being a monster killer, without any real concept of what that means. In a world with caustic vinegar seas, monsters running rampant, black powder weapons combined with biological and chemical warfare, this young boy struggles to figure out how he fits in. It is a great story.
What starts as a simple journey becomes a dangerous and complicated set of battles and decisions. Humans, monsters, unearthly creatures . . . who among these can Rossamünd trust?
Rossamünd is not the only great character in this story. There are several secondary characters that bring alot of depth to the tale. One of the cool, and kinda of creepy, aspects to this story are the monster fighters. There are several kinds. One type uses potions to fight monsters and there are others who are surgically altered. Of course you have your normal everyday sailors and soldiers who fight and kill monsters too (Rossamünd dreams of becoming one of these) but the "special" killers are an interesting creation. Rossamünd will encounter several of these on his journey to High Vesting where he is to start his life as an apprentice. The main one is a lazhar named Europe, a surgically altered lady who can truly kick some monster butt. Add into the mix an evil pirate, a traveling postmaster, several less then scary monsters - and a few very scary ones - and a mean coach driver and you have the makings of a great adventure story.
I did something a bit different with this book. I handed it to my 23 year old daughter, who loved Harry Potter and Fablehaven, to get her opinion from a younger viewpoint then mine. She is also not as avid a reader as I am so a book has to be pretty darn good to grab and keep her attention. The Foundling succeeded in doing so.
Daughter's Take: She loved the story, and really enjoyed the illustrations (done by the author) that are sprinkled throughout the book. She did not however like all of the unfamiliar and often lengthy words used. There is an extensive (120 page) glossary, including appendices, in the back. She felt that this interfered in her immersion of the story, since she frequently had to stop to consult the glossary. She also did not like the cliffhanger ending. In addition, she is worried that by the time book two comes out, she will have forgotten all the new terminology she has learned and will have to start all over again. This does not however, stop her from wanting to read book two!
My Take: I was also a bit concerned about a YA reader having to go through a learning curve in order to truly enjoy this story but I am sure that many will enjoy the challenge. Now I was not as bothered by this, I have an excellent memory for words and often the use of a new word or term was immediately explained, without a need to look it up. I also enjoyed the Explicarium (as the glossary is called) all by itself. Not only does it show how much work went into crafting this world but if you take the time to actually read it, it is almost a story unto itself. Besides that, the illustrations in the appendices are priceless. I have to agree with her on the cliff hanger ending though. I do not like those either but it served its purpose, I can hardly wait now for book two!
This is the type of YA story that will appeal to adults as well. There is some violence, this is a world at war with monsters, but nothing too excessive. It falls well within the parameters of PG-13. An interesting, meticulously crafted world, a believable main protagonist, plenty of mysteries, lots of adventure and the occasional twist. Great reading and I look forward to more great things from D. M. Cornish starting with the sequel, Lamplighter, due to be released in May.
Shelfari Rating 4/5
Librarything Rating 3.95/5
Amazon Rating 4+ out of 5 stars
(34 Customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
Audio CD: Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1)
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