2. Monster Blood Tattoo.
This series is a big reason why I miss Borders. If it hadn’t been at Borders I would have missed out on D.M. Cornish’s incredible world, for the new “American” series title and artwork are not nearly as dynamic as the first cover and title that caught my eye. I fell in love with MBT upon reading the first book, The Foundling, and was sad to see it was months before I saw it on the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble. One of Borders biggest strengths, in my opinion, was that they had a lot of awesomeness waiting to be discovered on their shelves.
Monster Blood Tattoo is the rightful name of this series, but for some reason it was deemed that Americans are too sensitive or something for this title, so it was changed to the bland The Foundling’s Tale. For me it will ever and always be Monster Blood Tattoo, and I will hereafter refer to the series as MBT. Australian author and illustrator D.M. Cornish spent some fifteen plus years creating the world of the Half-Continent. Think Napoleanic-era empire crossed with monsters and monster hunters. The result is as epic and as Tolkien’s Middle Earth with the addition of wonderful hand-drawn portraits of the characters. Add the lengthy, fascinating appendices, and it’s a veritable role-playing game waiting for geekdom.
The Foundling’s Tale as a name isn’t so far off, at least for the first three books (I am hoping there will be more), as it follows an orphan boy with a girl’s name, a kid who wants to be a monster fighter but ends up being a lamplighter on the emperor’s highway. Much like Harry Potter, Rossamünd has to continually reassess his view of world and the people and/or creatures in it. At times he’s just plain dumb, but then he’s a kid. The best character in the series is bonafide monster hunter Europe the “Branden Rose.” She’s one of those hard shell-soft core people for whom Rossamünd presents a dilemma. He insists on seeing the, well, “human” side of monsters, whereas Europe has grown up seeing them as threats only. She’s even had her organs surgically altered so she can fight the monsters with lightening. Interestingly, in the Half-Continent the majority of the monster hunters are women.
Why this could be The Next Harry Potter: Despite its rather simplistic plot at times, the series has great depth and great potential. Cornish has built a vast world meant to be explored in its minutest detail. The world and story can appeal to a wide audience, both kids and adults, and would easily adapt to the screen. The biggest challenge would be the terminology, as Cornish uses quite a few made up words much like HP or LOTR, but a talented screen writer would be able to incorporate these no problem. The series also boasts a wealth of interesting characters, both humans and monsters, political and social commentary, and the important theme that people and creatures be judged not merely for what they are, but for what they do and how they act.
Up next time: The Kingdom