Rotherweird3 books in series
The Sixties may be swinging all over the world, but for one corner of England, the decade barely registers – or matters. That’s because Rotherweird is essentially a closed society, isolated since Elizabethan times and dedicated to scientific discovery. Newcomers are unwelcome, there are no cars, telephones, MP, police or organised religion, and the population is largely self-sustaining. History lessons start in 1800 – the year, not the time – and only the pea-brained, bold or naive would ask about how Rotherweird ended up the way it is.
So when two newcomers – a teacher and a vulgar millionaire – arrive in town, the applecart is well and truly upset. The village secret must be preserved at all costs, but the more curious the newcomers grow, the more closely it is protected. This can’t end well.
There couldn’t be a better narrator than Kris Dyer to guide you through this trilogy of titles that revel in the eerie and the eccentric. As well as being a prodigious narrator, he’s also a stand-up comic and BBC Radio 4 writer. Dyer’s experience on the stage has honed his immaculate delivery. His delight at the surreal and also an ironic tone are exactly what the trilogy calls for.
Writer Andrew Caldecott is a QC by day and only he knows whether Rotherweird is escapism, a grim reflection of society or a utopia. For the listener, the village and the populace that he’s conjured up carry elements of all three, but you’ll be in no doubt that this is a fantasy land, where anything can happen and usually does. Parallels with Gormenghast are justified.
Hilary Mantel agrees, describing the first Rotherweird title as 'intricate and crisp, witty and solemn: a book with special and dangerous properties'. Combine Caldecott’s words with Kris Dyer’s precise narration and you’ve got the makings of many hours of intrigue and mirth.