Literature: Monster Blood Tattoo

The boy with the girl's name.

Combine Bio Punk and Dungeon Punk, mold it into a Coming-of-Age Story, layer in a lot of Lord of the Rings-style world building, and frost it with lots of alchemy, and you'll have the Monster Blood Tattoo series.

Written and illustrated by D. M. Cornish, the first series is a trilogy following the bildungsroman of one Rossamund Bookchild: orphan, budding chemist, and reluctant adventurer, and his journey of self-discovery. Along the way he meets many people and many creatures, notably Europe, the Branden Rose, lightning-wielding monster-hunter and duchess-in-waiting of Naimes; Threnody of Herbroulesse, telepath, fellow lamplighter 'prentice, with a prickly exterior; and assorted monsters and nonhuman denizens of the wilds of the Half-Continent.

Other books and stories are planned in the series, obvious given the sheer scope of the world and the attention to detail and backstory present in the glossaries of each book. As of spring 2013 two new stories in one book are forthcoming, according the the author.

The Jim Henson Company has optioned the rights to create a film based on Cornish's world, but there has been no news since 2009. Any upcoming news relating to the series and much extra material can be found on David's blog, Monster Blog Tattoo.

The series was renamed to The Foundling's Tale in North America, possibly because the Moral Guardians felt ill-at-ease with a title referencing tattoos (or blood) in a young adult novel.

This series includes the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure - In the second book. Rossamund and his classmates as lamplighters have to learn to fight monsters.
  • Action Girl - Threnody and all her monster-hunting lady friends. And Europe, of course.
  • A Father to His Men - The Lamplighter-Marshal.
  • Adorkable - Rossamund. Kind-hearted, awkward, eager to please, very shy.
  • All There in the Manual - There is a selection of glossary terms, maps, and diagrams at the end of each book. The first one took up nearly as many pages as the story itself.
  • Amazon Brigade - Calendar Claves.
  • Ambition Is Evil - The secretarial staff are up to no good.
  • Badass Bookworm - Rossamund has his moments.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People - Subverted: Rossamund's powers aren't evil persay, it's the reason behind their existence that has everyone upset.
  • Bald of Awesome - All Wits lose their hair, which leads to...
  • Bald Women - All female Wits.
  • Band of Brothers - The Lamplighters at Wormstool.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished - Played with; at various points, Europe gets the crap beaten out of her and/or becomes deathly ill, and is described as looking like a shadow of her former self...and STILL being gorgeous.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat - The Lamplighter-Marshal until he's called away as part of a power play by the Master-of-Clerks.
  • Bio Punk - crossed with a Steam Punk aesthetic.
  • Bittersweet Ending - No one really important dies, but Rossamund is separated from Europe and all the other humans he cares about, forever.
  • Black Sheep - Europe of her family, and Threnody of her clave (to a degree).
  • Blessed with Suck - Being a Lazhar; on the one hand, awesome monster-killing powers. On the other hand, you have to take an array of noxious potions on a daily basis to keep your implanted organs from killing you horribly; which they may end up doing anyways. Oh, and you're a social pariah, shunned by decent folk. Wits have it even worse than Fulgars, having to take twice as many potions and losing all their hair.
  • Blood Knight - Europe has elements of this; Licurius definitely is/was.
  • Carnival of Killers - Europe and Rossamund have to fight their way through a number of hired killers at the midpoint and at the climax of Book Three.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin - Grinnlings.
  • Child Soldiers - The prentices are all quite young, but expected to learn how to fight and succeed against various monsters in about four months' time. This is revealed as not commonly accepted everywhere in the Half Continent as a woman expresses the sentiment that Rossamund is too young to be fighting.
  • Coming-of-Age Story - The trilogy is Rossamund's Bildungsroman.
  • Conveniently an Orphan - Rossamund
  • Cryptic Background Reference - The Half-Continent is vast and all the stories happen within a few hundred miles of each other, but there's the imperial heartland on the other side of the Half-Continent and all the kingdoms near it, and all the people only mentioned like the Emperor, not to mention the tales of the Gotts who fled from across the sea from the rise of a false-god, apocalyptic monsters that are only mentioned in passing.
  • Cute Bruiser - Rossamund is a male example after learning to tap his inner monster-strength near the end of Book Two
  • Dance Battler - Sagaars.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen - Europe, after she adopts Rossamund as a Morality Pet.
  • Eldritch Abomination - the false gods, and to the common people probably the monster lords. The false Gods are pretty much a expy of lovecraftian horrors, they live under the sea, they have many mouths and radically different bodies, they are sleeping and waiting to rise, cults of people worship them and when one did rise a fishing village was destroyed.
  • Everythings Better With Duchesses-in-Waiting - Europe.
  • Evil Counterpart - Laudibus Pile can be seen as the evil counterpart to Mister Sebastipole.
  • Facial Markings - Most teratologists have facial markings, known as spoors, which are made with chemical stains instead of needles and ink. Fulgars, who control lightning, are marked with diamonds somewhere on the face. Wits, who control a form of telepathy, are marked with arrows. Dexters have both sets of organs/powers and combine the diamond and arrow in various ways. There are also skolds (basically battle chemists, without any biological augmentation) and they generally have long stripes over their eyes, from the hairline to the jawline.
  • Fantastic Racism - Basically the entire storyline. Monsters Vs. Humans and such.
  • Foreshadowing - Freckle's words to Rossamund on their first meeting, Rossamund's conversation with the Rabbit Lord.
  • Functional Magic: Alchemy variation. The most obvious is probably the lahzars, a group of specialised monster-hunters who have had various vat-grown organs transplanted into their bodies to give them special powers: control of electricity (called fulgars) or what amounts to telepathy (called wits).
  • Gender-Blender Name - Rossamund.
  • Hair-Raising Hare - The Lapinduce.
  • Healing Potion - Rossamund always has a satchel full of powders, so of course one of them has to have healing powers.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners - Masters Craumpalin and Fransitart.
  • Humans Are Bastards - Rossamund finds it infuriating that everyone is so intent on killing monsters.
  • Humanoid Abomination - Some of the monsters are this, particularly rever-men and jackstraws (apparently referred to as zombie scarecrows in the glossary). Rossamund might be considered this.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Threnody is a vain and annoying brat, annoying even Rossamund to the point of snapping at her, but she highly values the protection of the oppressed because of her calendar learnings and remains loyal to him even when it gets hard for her.
  • Kangaroo Court - The Master-of-Clerks inquiry into Rossamund's actions at Wormstool.
  • Karma Houdini - Laudibus Pile. Unlike the Master-of-Clerks and Grotius Swill, Pile manages to survive the fall of Winstermill and sells his account of it to the scandals.
  • Lady of War - Europe and a few of her allies and enemies in the third book.
  • Living Lie Detector - Falsemen
  • Masquerade Ball - Europe throws one of these in Book Three.
  • Morality Pet - Rossamund for Europe.
  • Na´ve Newcomer - Rossamund
  • Nice Hat - Rossamund has a very nice one. Several, in fact. Every time he loses one, Europe calls him out on it, and it becomes something of a Running Gag.
  • Nightmare Fetishist - Licurius' hobby was painting graphic depictions of monster-related violence. Some he sold, others he kept in his bedroom.
  • Our Monsters Are Different
  • Our Monsters Are Weird
  • Pintsized Powerhouse - Cinnamon and Rossamund.
  • Prophetic Names - Rossamund's embarrassing name is in fact quite important to the plot.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance - Wits put their fingers to their temples when they frission.
  • Psychic Powers - Wits.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure - The Lamplighter-Marshal at Winstermill. See also Beleaguered Bureaucrat, above.
  • Red Baron - Europe, the Branden Rose.
  • Shock and Awe - Fulgars.
  • Super Senses - Laggards have superpowerful vision, wearing an olfactlogue enhances ones sense of smell, and a sthenicon enhances both sight and smell.
  • Technicolor Eyes - The alchemical "washes" that give leers their special sight also changes their eye colors; laggards have brown and yellow eyes, falsemen have red and pale-blue eyes.
  • Tomato Inthe Mirror - Although he's not a bad monster
  • Took a Level in Badass - Rossamund, goes from spending fights hiding in Book One to wading through a horde of nickers at the battle at Wormstool near the end of Book Two.
  • Uriah Gambit - The Master-of-Clerks sending Rossamund to Wormstool, the most dangerous Lamplighter outpost in the Empire, is implied to be this.
  • World Building - It's pretty intricate.