And so Monster Blood Tattoo begins. Having a girl’s name has caused no end of grief for Rossumünd at the orphanage (otherwise known as Madam Opera’s Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls) where he has grown up. It is there, year after year, he has been overlooked by the agents who come to the house to pick workers. He yearns after the Navy, a life of adventure and danger, even though he’s never actually seen the sea. Eventually he is chosen to be a Lamplighter. One who must live by a tight schedule lighting the highway lamps when it gets dark and snuffing them when it gets light. He’s mightily disappointed. It seems a very dull job, no adventure, no monster-slaying, nothing to recommend it. But when Rossumünd sets off to travel to his new job, little does he know that he’s set out on a series of dangerous adventures. And his new life soon proves to be much more exciting that he had hoped for.
This was a totally inventive fantasy. It’s set in a world where there is an eternal struggle between various kinds of monsters and humans. People mainly live in sheltered cities, there are several kinds of monster-slayers that are strange and dangerous and not very well liked even though they keep people safe. In fact it’s so original, I’m not really sure how to write about it without giving away plot points that would be much more fun to discover on your own. It’s a complex world that is filled with shades of gray. Nothing is straight forward, nothing is clear cut, and things that are said to be good or bad aren’t always what they seem to be.
Needless to say I loved it. It took me awhile to get into the vocabulary, but luckily there was lots of explanation and I could tell from the text what was going on even if I couldn’t remember exactly what a word meant. The characters were completely engaging. I don’t think there were any main characters that weren’t well developed, interesting, and compelling. The people that Rossumünd meets on his journey were absolutely fantastic. They were sinister, and surprising, and I wanted to know even more about them. These Australian authors never cease to amaze me, there are some real quality teen books coming from over there.
That being said, the author obviously has big things planned for our hero. There are sequels to come and I am really looking forward to them.