Factotum (Monster Blood Tattoo, book 3), by D. M. Cornish

Factotum is the third and final installment in D. M. Cornish’s fantastic Monster Blood Tattoo series (now called The foundling’s tale in USA). This is a series that you should definitely read in order so if you have not read books 1 and 2 yet, I suggest you give them a look. You can read what I thought of them here: The foundling; and Lamplighter. By way of warning, the following review will give away a couple of plot points that develop over the first two books, so feel free to stop reading here and go read those books first.

At the end of book 2, Rossamund took on the role of factotum to Europe, the monster slayer with whom his life had become connected. For those not already familiar with the series, Europe is a Fulgar, someone who has had extra organs surgically added to her body that allow her to generate something like lightning that she uses against monsters. Rossamund had also been accused of being a monster himself – one with a human form. These two developments provide the storyline for Factotum which begins with the final stages of the journey to the city of Brandenbass, including a battle with a sea monster on the way. Rossamund is then introduced to the lavish life Europe leads when not hunting monsters. He has little time however, to sit back and enjoy living in high society as influential people in the city, including some enemies of Europe become aware of the accusations against him. Rossamund also seems to find it hard to keep out of trouble and his curiosity and naivety lead him into a seedy establishment where his conscience forces him to act on what he sees there (sorry, that’s deliberately vague as I don’t want to give too much away).

Eventually Europe and Rossamund along with a couple of his old friends who are now also in her employ take on some commissions to track down and kill various monsters. While this may seem to take them away from the trouble brewing in Brandenbass, it manages to follow them. Throughout the various events in this book Rossamund is exposed to new aspects of the monster world and the ways the monsters and humans exist together as he tries to understand his place in the world.

As with the first two books, Factotum is a long and detailed book including extra information about the world in an Explicarium at the end of the book. If you have read and enjoyed the first two I expect you will want to read this and expect you will enjoy it. If not, then head back to the beginning and read Lamplighter. The series is set in a richly described fantasy world, the characters are interesting and well developed and it it not always clear who is on the side of good or evil. The story has also kept me curiously turning pages (over 1500 of them through three books).

[cross posted from about the books]