'A book with special and dangerous properties' Hilary Mantel, bestselling author of Wolf Hall
'Enthralling' M.R. Carey, bestselling author of The Girl With All the Gifts
'An imaginative tour de force' The Times
1558: Twelve children, gifted far beyond their years, are banished by their Tudor queen to the town of Rotherweird. Some say they are the golden generation; some say the devil's spawn. But everyone knows they are something to be revered - and feared.
Four and a half centuries on, cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I and still bound by its ancient laws, Rotherweird's independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.
Then an Outsider arrives, a man of unparallelled wealth and power, enough to buy the whole of Rotherweird - deeply buried secrets and all . . .
Welcome to Rotherweird.
'A remarkable achievement' Sunday Independent
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In the first book of a planned trilogy, Andrew Caldecott transports us to Rotherweird, a mysterious, autonomous town in modern-day England. The teaching of local history has been banned so there’s little knowledge of how the region came to be populated by a cast of intriguingly eccentric and gifted characters, or why it was cut adrift and kept hidden from the rest of the UK. Darkly compelling answers lie in the town’s buried past and Caldecott’s vivid prose slowly brings them to the surface, producing a dazzlingly immersive blend of thriller, fantasy and historical fiction.
In this intricate, leisurely trilogy opener, Caldecott weaves an evocative picture of a small British town characterized by its reclusive nature, both haunted by and disconnected from its mysterious past. When the hapless Jonah Oblong is hired to teach modern ("1800 and after is the rule") history to the students of Rotherweird, he discovers a community filled with eccentrics and geniuses, bound by ancient rules, the most important of which is "we're forbidden to study old history" especially the town's own origins. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Sir Veronal Slickstone moves into Rotherweird's long-empty manor, setting into motion a series of bizarre events that seem poised to uncover secrets left buried for centuries. With a sizable cast pursuing numerous plot threads over the course of months, this tale starts slowly, only picking up speed once the layers of magic-riddled history are gradually pulled back. While the focus might be on the oddball inhabitants, Rotherweird is the true heart and soul of the narrative, a character in its own right. Dense language and overly clever riddles complicate a complex story that will nevertheless reward the patient reader.