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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Monster Blood Tattoo: Factotum

Author: D.M. Cornish
Originally Published: 2010
Courtney’s Edition Published: 2011
Publisher: Firebird, a division of Penguin
Source: Purchased

The Story

From the back of the book:

In a world of menace and violence, standing up for what’s right can save your life.

Rossamünd is now the personal servant of the Brandon Rose, the most renowned – and infamous – monster-hunter in all of the Half-Continent. When he moves to her adopted hometown of Brandenbrass, the full secret of Rossamünd’s origin is revealed. His old dormitory-master Fransitart’s cruorpunxis – a monster blood tattoo – made from Rossamünd’s own blood, proves that he truly is a Rossamünderling, a monster made in the likeness of a human. But despite the Branden Rose’s power and influence as a Peer of the Empire, powerful forces move against them both, led by the conniving surgeon Grotius Swill, who has one goal: to destroy them and their world.

The Response

Oh… this book… I am so happy that I read it and yet so sad that it took me this long to read it. I had loved the first two books in the trilogy when I read them back in 2008. They’re original, imaginative and extremely well written. In fact, I would have to say that this trilogy has some of the best world making that I have ever seen in a children’s or young adult’s novel. It’s definitely reminiscent of how well made Tolkein’s worlds all are put together. So well thought out; it’s just all amazing and real and that alone makes the trilogy worth reading.

Unfortunately, I have to say that because it has been so long between books, it took me over 100 pages to get into the last installment in the trilogy.

Here’s the biggest problem about it – because Rossamünd’s story is filled with a lot of travels, and meeting new people throughout his journeys, there are a lot of the colourful characters we met in the first few books… and when they made an appearance in this book, I had no idea who they are. In fact, the only characters I really remembered were the four main characters in this book. Even among the last couple pages, it mentioned characters that I had no idea what their relationship is to Rossamünd. And unfortunately, that made it hard for me to really invets myself into the first bit of this book. That said, once I got back into the swing of the trilogy, I REALLY got into it. It’s just such an amazing story, so touching, so full of action and adventure that any type of reader would enjoy it, whatever they look for in a good book.

Since this is the last in a trilogy, there may be spoilers for the two previous books from this point onward.

The story as a whole shows how those people and things we think are evil may not be as evil as we may originally think them to be. Rossamünd and the Branden Rose’s relationship was one of the most touching of the series in this aspect. Her care and acceptance of Rossam&uum;nd, and how she shows that even she (one of the people who are forever hunting and killing monsters) can learn to love that which she is always hunting, well it gives hope for the whole world. Really, their relationship was quite beautiful – I’ve always found stories where orphans find acceptance and love with a family to be extremely touching. This was that plus so much more. Poor little orphan Rossamünd, not only knowing who he came from, but not even knowing WHAT he is, whether he’s human or whether he’s that which the world hates and fears… it’s so much more touching when he finds the love of a parent/guardian in the Branden Rose.

Actually, the growth of both Rossamünd and the Branden Rose in this installment were amazing and showed such care and depth that you know how well Cornish planned the series ahead of time. They both changed so much and so magnificently throughout the whole trilogy – Rossamünd accepting who he is, and the Branden Rose learning affection for that which she hunts.

And here I haven’t even gotten to talk about the monsters of the series, which all have amazing things that I could say about them. I mean, some of them are nasty to the point where I was shuddering because of how grossed out I was… but some of them were everything that was wonderful and charming. Especially Cinnamon, a sparrow-like creature who walks around in garments that gentlemen would wear. Oh, he was lovely. The book made me believe that such beings could exist, whether in our world or in another one. These are the characters that belong to the GOOD fantasy stories.

The more I think about it, the more I would consider placing these books on-par with the Narnia books, though with much less Christianity in them, and more more detailed and developed. More in terms of the characters in both that make you yearn to find that magical world where something like them could exist.

The Bottom Line

This book, though it was over 600 pages, and though it took about 100 for me to get into, was over before I was ready for it to end. The last few chapters utterly broke my heart, both because of things that were so wonderful that happened and so horrible and so sad… I really wish that there was more in this lovely trilogy. I highly recommend this trilogy to fans of YA fantasy.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:55 am March 20, 2012.
Category: Young Adult
Book Author(s):
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  • Kailana

    Oh, sounds good! I will have to look into the first book.

  • Mutterscrawl

    So glad to see others have enjoyed this series! I adore all the books and I can’t wait for more @.@

    In my spare time I’ve even taken to trying to work the story of the world into the mechanics of an RPG, video game, and uh, Homestuck.

    Am I obsessed? Oh I hope so.