Author: DM Cornish
Genre: Middle-grade high fantasy
Verdict: Really picks up the series and puts it on its feet.
In December I read and Chopped the first book in this series. You'll note that I described it as a "delightful book about nothing."
Well, after having time to chew on that (and read the sequel) I have more to say about it. As mentioned before, Cornish's road to publication was a little off the beaten path: he'd spent years developing the world of the "Monster Blood Tattoo" series, more as a hobby than anything else. When a literary agent came into the mix, he was paid small advances to write 1000 words per week. Eventually they got a story good enough for one book, and that was FOUNDLING (book 1.)
FOUNDLING was a good adventure. New words to learn, new concepts to understand, and characters to meet. The entire book is about Rossamund, an orphan, who leaves his orphanage and reports for duty at the Lamplighter Corps. On the way he gets delayed, and meets a bunch of people who are important later.
In LAMPLIGHTER, things really start to pick up, and we see this vivid and detailed world through a much larger scope. The Lamplighters are a military organization, protecting people on long country roads from monsters. They walk from one fortress at dusk, light the lamps, and sleep at another fortress, then return the next morning to douse the lamps. If they find monsters, they fight them. If they kill them, they take the blood-ichor from the monster and give themselves tattoos (hence the series title.)
Rossamund meets new characters, reunites with old ones, and learns of a sinister plot within the Lamplighter Corps: people are making monsters and hiding them inside the fortresses, attempting to take them over.
I really don't want to say any more than that, because the story and world are both interesting enough to merit your full attention. Especially the last few chapters, wherein you learn something devastating about Rossamund's true origins.
The third book, FACTOTUM, is already out. I intend to read it soon. The series gets a PG rating--some grotesque monster violence, and some characters get injured, but nothing worse than say, the Spiderwick Chronicles movie.