There are some books that don’t work for me, but I still appreciate why others enjoy them. Then there are other books that I don’t enjoy that I just can’t grasp why people review them favorably or recommend them. Foundling by D. M. Cornish is unfortunately the latter for me. There’s no secret here. This is one of my least favorite reads of 2013. Actually, most likely it is my least favorite. But, this was a book club read, so I persevered and read it through to the end. My reward for doing so was being able to set it down and never read it again.
Here’s a short blurb for the book:
Meet Rossamünd–a foundling, a boy with a girl’s name who is about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor of the Half-Continent. What starts as a simple journey becomes a dangerous and complicated set of battles and decisions. Humans, monsters, unearthly creatures . . . who among these can Rossamünd trust? D. M. Cornish has created an entirely original world, grounded in his own deft, classically influenced illustrations. Foundling is a magic-laced, Dickensian adventure that will transport the reader
The blurb actually sounds like it could be pretty good, right? So why did I think it was so bad? Well, just to start the reader out on the wrong foot, the book begins with a gigantic info dump describing the history of the school that Rossamund attends. Yawn
After we get through that, there is a very obvious “Monster Bad. People Good”. I suppose this could work if it weren’t so in your face. Here’s a direct quote:
“People were good. Monsters were bad. People had to kill monsters in order to live free and remain at peace.”
– Foundling, D. M. Cornish
This, to me, is an obvious set up to show that things are not going to be that black and white later in the book. And if it’s not, well then, that may be even worse. I hate being spoon fed and to feel like the author is trying to hold my hand to lead me to see the blindingly obvious. Pretty much, it’s message is as subtle as a billy club to the face.
Rossamund’s character I found confusing. Most times he acts very much like a 9 year old, but other times, I think he seems older than that (like having a very innocent romantic interest). I think if he was supposed to be old enough to have a romantic interest on any level and it was just him acting immature, that would be one thing. But other characters would treat him as if he were a young child, often younger than 9. I felt like the author just didn’t have a good grasp of how kids act and are treated at whatever age he was supposed to be.
As for world building, there were many concepts/words introduced within this world. Most of them I found myself completely disinterested in and usually felt they were irrelevant.
So, when it came down to it, I did not enjoy the writing style, I did not enjoy the characters, I forgot to mention that this book was also very slow, I did not find it engaging, I was not intrigued by the world. The concept of the book was the only thing that worked for me and that became irrelevant. This could have been a good story, but how it is, I just don’t understand what anyone enjoys about it.