Speak, Sep 2007, $8.99
In spite of his first name, Rossamund Bookchild is a young male orphan living at Madam Opera's Estimable Marine Society for Foundling Boys and Girls. Rossamund, like all the children at this orphanage, is being trained to serve either in the Boschenberg Navy or some other government agency.
A stranger with strange eyes hires Rossamund as a "lamplighter" for the Emperor watching out for rogue men and monsters (see the 102 page Explicarium glossary for more details involving the role of a lamplighter). However, Rossamund fails to reach his destination when he is tricked into boarding the wrong vessel. This ship of doom leaves the lad in a strange realm where blood feuding is the norm as monsters and human are in constant mortal combat. Rossamund soon learns that when a human kills a monster, a "monster-blood tattoo" is made from the deceased’s blood and placed on the victor (see Explicarium for more details). However, the lost lamplighter knows survival on this strange Half Continent is all that matters until he can find passage back to his assignment; that is if he still hasq the job.
The young adult story line is excellent enhanced by wonderful drawings, but it is the appendices with the incredible glossary, the maps and the detailed pictures that make this opening fantasy thriller unique and extraordinary. Rossamund is a wonderful lead protagonist who the audience will admire as he struggles to survive the Half-Continent. Much of his escapades enable the reader to meet the locals, which in turn anchors the place. Readers of all ages will appreciate this superb refreshing tale and look forward to Rossamund’s next Monster Blood Tattoo adventure (see LAMPLIGHTER).