I just finished Monster Blood Tattoo and its sequel, Lamplighter, by D.M. Cornish. Young Rossamund Bookchild begins his story as an orphan left on the steps of Madame Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls with nothing but his name pinned to his swaddling clothes. Constantly made fun of for his girlish name, Rossamund can't wait to be hired away to a ship on which he can use his training for life on the vinegar seas. When he is unexpectedly hired as a lamplighter, Rossamund feels disappointment at what he feels will be the continual drudgery of trudging out each night to light the lamps along the Emperor's roadway and again each day to extinguish them. However, his adventures begin as soon as he sets out, when he manages to board the wrong ship and be pressed into service of an unsavory man named Poundinch. Throughout both books, Rossamund seems to always find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet he always pulls through, often to the astonishment of others. I won't spoil anything by saying to much, but I will say I was pleased that the mystery surrounding Rossamund's origins is somewhat revealed at the end of the second book. It irritates me when a book builds up suspense around a certain character and then never reveals enough to satisfy my curiousity. I was amazed by the amount of detail Cornish went into in building the world of the Half Continent in which the story is set. Each book contains a 100-page "Explicarium" with a definition of terms found in the story as well as diagrams and illustrations of various items and characters in the story. I got the feeling of being transported to another world while reading these books, as the characters and situations involved were so intriguing and exciting.
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