Review Blog

Apr 11 2011

Monster Blood Tattoo Book Three: Factotum

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Omnibus (Scholastic Books) 2010. ISBN 978 1862916920.
(Ages 10+) Fantasy, Highly recommended. The third and last book in this extraordinary series, Factotum takes us into the new world of Rossamund. He is now assistant to the monster killer, Miss Europe, and with the two retired vigneroons, Fransitart and Craumpalin, the quartet is on its way to Brandebrass, Miss Europe's home. He is to stay in Licurius' old room, the box faced assistant now dead and gone. But he is still very puzzled about his origins, and so one night after dinner, Miss Europe sends the servants from the room and answers his questions. His worst fears become reality. He is a rosamunderling, a boy born with human features, but really a monster. When Fransitart's cut on his arm becomes a cruorpunxis, a monster blood tattoo, the world will know his secret and will be ready to denounce and kill him.
A fast paced adventure like no other, the story abounds with parallels to that of the eighteenth century, the wonderful illustrations evoking the time of bunderblusses and waistcoats, the time of Georgian England and the Napoleonic Wars.
Many characters spend time with Rossamund, Rookwood, the Archduke, and his old friends, Freckle and Cinnamon, all the while wondering just why he is where he is, employed by Miss Europe,a well known and successful killer of monsters, a fulgar with tattoos showing the number of kills. Rumours abound about Rossamund's heritage, and he is faced with a difficult choice when sent to a village the tattoo reveals itself. His friends take him to Mister Plume's house where he is told about the history of the war between man and monster, paralleling everyman with one group, people or nation fighting the other.
The world of Rossamund is a treat in itself, with the words, costumes, weaponry and gadgets Cornish has created around his hero. All are engrossing and the explanations at the end of the book in the Explicarium is fun to read, with its mixture of Latin, Greek, old English and Biblical language.
Books One and Two, Foundling and Lamplighter have won accolades around the world, were shortlisted for major prizes and won the prestigious Aurealis Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2006 and 2008. And Factotum the final in the series, Monster Blood Tattoo, will be no less feted.
Fran Knight

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