Monday, May 26, 2008
Whimsy is a very underrated quantity in storytelling, especially for children's/YA literature. A story can have sparkling prose or a vividly-detailed landscape, but without a hint of whimsy, it can be as dry as dust and as interesting as paint drying. Whimsy, when employed correctly, can give a story that extra Oomph! that attracts the reader's attention, acting as a sort of portal for that reader to enter into a dialogue with the text.
Australian writer D.M. Cornish displays this whimsical quality in spades in his debut novel, 2006's Foundling. Shortlisted for such prestigious honors as the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults in 2007, Foundling contained an excellent mixture of deft characterizations (accentuated by Cornish's own drawings, which adds much to the atmosphere pervading the novel), sparkling prose, and above all else, an atmosphere of "Hey! Ya know, this is fascinating!"
I read Foundling back in February (although I had received a review copy back in the Autumn of 2007, I had a huge backlog and didn't try reading it until then). I meant to write a full-scale review then, but I was swamped with job applications and other review commitments and I just kept pushing it off. However, for those wanting a bit more on this debut effort, here is a review I just read which fits well with my own reaction to the novel.
Now Cornish has released the second volume in his Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy, Lamplighter. Clocking in at over 700 pages (and filled with copious appendices and illustrations drawn again by Cornish), it promises to continue the action-packed and intriguing storylines begun in Foundling. I'll be reading Lamplighter sometime in the next few weeks and hopefully I'll have a review written before the end of June. Right now, this little trilogy has the potential to build upon the children's/YA lit renaissance that began 10 years ago with J.K. Rowling and Lemony Snicket's fine serials. I highly recommend that readers who found much to enjoy in those tales to check out D.M. Cornish's work.