Rotherweird is, hands down, the most enigmatic books I have ever read. Set in two different timelines, Andrew Caldecott (Interview), sets-up life in the present day town of Rotherweird and the origins of the town back in the 1500s. Structurally, this provides readers with more information than many current day citizens because they refuse to study any general history before the 1800s and ANY history of Rotherweird period.
This is also where the mystery begins. There is a gap between the point of origin when the Queen orders the execution of ten very bright children, she decides are actually evil. However, Sir Robert is unable to go through with the order and instead sends them to the care of a father of two at Rotherweird Manor. And so, begins a terrifying tale. Without giving too much away, one of the ten children is quite off his rocker and takes horrific measures to control the group.
This leads to very cult behaviors where cross breeding of animals and humans begin to take place. It is contained to a nether world just underneath Rotherweird manor and life continues to go on until present day when a very rich, very eccentric man shows up and starts stirring up trouble.
At the present time Rotherweird has been cut off from the rest of England. It is not under any British rule. Outsiders are forbidden and Rotherweird’s citizens are not permitted to leave. A few local country-siders are permitted to sell their wares within the market but not to stay overnight. There are a couple of hired teachers permitted to stay but lately a couple have been fired or disappeared. This is especially true of the last history teacher that went digging into Rotherweird’s past.
When a new history teacher is hired and he is aided by other highly intelligent science teachers in picking up where the last left off, it becomes quite obvious that the past won’t stay buried much longer. And their new resident, an outsider which is never allowed, is part of the ominous collision between the present and past that is coming.
Caldecott writing style is both atmospheric and tangible all at once. I was definitely forced to pay more attention while reading as this was not a story that was going to come to me. It was much more of a show, not tell, read with multi-dimensional characters and two different settings, developing in two different timelines.
There were a couple of characters that were distinctly good or evil but more often than not they each had sympathizing and questionable qualities that kept them from being wholly one or the other (and don’t we all).
Up front it took time to separate the characters, as there were a lot of them given all at once. Additionally, the names weren’t of the simple variety. There was a reference guide up front, and I found myself referring to it quite often. However, once I did sort them out it was easy to keep track from there.
Rotherweird is a great read when you want to break out of the mold and take a step out of time. It provides a well assorted mix of supernatural mystery, sci-fi, graphic horror, gothic magic and historical fiction. This the first in a series that is sure to build on the many loose ends at the end of this first installment. Returning to the citizens of Rotherweird will surely be as wild a ride as the start.