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D.M. Cornish
Speak, Penguin, 434 pages

D.M. Cornish
D.M. Cornish was born in 1972. He is a fantasy author and illustrator from Adelaide, South Australia. He spent most of his childhood drawing, as well as most of his teenage and adult years as well. And by age eleven he had made his first book, called "Attack from Mars." He studied illustration at the University of South Australia, where he began to compile a series of notebooks, beginning with #1 in 1993 and, over the next ten years, he filled 23 journals with his pictures, definitions, ideas and histories of his world, the Half-Continent.

D.M. Cornish Website
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A review by John Enzinas

I had no idea what to expect when I started Foundling, the first book of the Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish. However, it started with a stick fight and that's a pretty good way to hold my interest. The fight between Rossamund and Gosling is tight and well written, capturing well the feelings of going up against a bigger, stronger, older child in any sport where such things confer great advantage. The author does not appear overly protective of his character, the fight itself ending in a tie. Even this little victory does not last as Gosling leaps forward to punish Rossamund for his own poor defence.

I fully admit that, even half way through this first chapter, I was had not fully committed to finishing this book, the author having the habit of making up new words for everyday things. Vinagaroon instead of Sailor for example. By the end of the chapter, I realized that it worked and didn't distract me from the story.

The book tells the tale of Rossamund as he is selected for service with the Lamplighters (those who ensure that the lights of the empires roads never grow dim) and his journey to a distant city where he will be trained for his new job.

The world he travels through could be described as Steampunk, but its technology owes more to Frankenstein than The Difference Engine. Perhaps Fleshpunk might be a better term. In this world, monsters roam everywhere and must be fought off by the defenders of the everymen. Some use potions and others have special powers granted by the grafting of alien organs. The mighty iron ships that ply the vinegar seas are powered by Gastrines, mighty engines of muscle. There are even those who practice the dark arts and build new monsters from the bodies of the dead (both monster and everyman).

The final quarter of the book is filled with appendices (called the Explicarium) filled with notes and details about the world.

There is a risk when there has been a great deal of effort spent on world building (and this is most commonly seen in books based on RPGs) that the book becomes nothing more than a travelogue of all of the details that the author has come up with for his world. Thankfully Cornish knows that his world is only there to support Rossamund on his journey. Like the best made orthopaedics, it is fit to the part it supports but is unnoticeable except when it is needed.

I'm told that there are two more books in this series. I can't decide what I am looking forward to more: reading more about Rossamund as he keeps moving towards his destiny or just wanting to immerse myself once more in the world Cornish has created.

Copyright © 2009 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.

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