Blog Tour Review: Rotherweird – Plenty of Weird, Not a Lot of Enjoyment


Title: Rotherweird
Author: Andrew Caldecott
Publisher: Quercus (US)
Release Date: June 9th, 2019
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Subjects and Themes: Alternate History
Page Count: 456 (hardback)

Rating: DNF @ ~50%

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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.



Oh boy. I tried really hard with this because I’d never DNFed a blog tour book before and the idea made me feel incredibly guilty. So I pushed myself to the halfway mark before throwing in the towel. Here’s the way I’m trying to look at it. The book clearly isn’t for me, and an extra 200+ pages probably isn’t going to change that. And if I keep reading, it’ll forever be embedded in my brain as not only “that book I disliked,” but also, “that book I disliked and was forced to finish.” And that’s a badge of resentment I don’t think the book deserves.

Well, enough assuaging my conscience. Let’s get to why Rotherweird didn’t work.

I think you’ll have to enjoy a particular writing style to get into the book–scholarly, with dense descriptions that are far too dry for my tastes. There are definitely sections where the story benefits from the prose, adding to the richness of Rotherweird and its inhabitants, but for the most part they pile up into a thick wall of Too Much, and I found myself glazing over a lot of it.

As for the characters, they’re varied and quirky but in a very distant, sterile kind of way. There are also far too many of them, and none are distinct enough for me to become invested in their story.

The plot has to be my biggest gripe, though. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I’m just an idiot. But when it comes to books that have complex, criss-crossing plotlines, I prefer the ones that are more…accessible. The ones that cordially invite you to partake in their mystery. Because that’s what stories are–a conversation between the reader and the writer. But when a plot becomes too convoluted, too inaccessible, and you lose the readers in the process, the story starts morphing into a monologue, and no one wants that. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens here.

Overall, the premise of the book is fantastic and it’s got individual elements here and there that I liked, but none of that gelled together into a story that I could enjoy.



Rotherweird Twitter.jpg

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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0 comment

Tammy August 8, 2019 - 5:36 am

Too bad…I have read some really good reviews of this, so like you say, it might just not have been for you. I have a copy I plan to tackle soon, wish me luck😊

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 12, 2019 - 10:37 am

Sending all the good bookish spirits your way!!! I hope you like it, Tammy!!

MetalPhantasmReads August 8, 2019 - 8:41 am

I got offered it as well and I’m glad I turned it down. Great review Kathy

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 11, 2019 - 6:07 pm

Ooh good call! Next time I’ll have to remember to read reviews before signing onto a blog tour. 😛

sjhigbee August 8, 2019 - 2:53 pm

It’s always sad when a book fails to entertain and engross – sorry this happened to you on a blog tour. And I think the author would appreciate your DNF’ing it…

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 12, 2019 - 1:57 pm

Thank you, Sarah! Oh gosh, I really hope that the author and the publisher doesn’t mind the DNF label. And strangely enough, I feel more guilty with DNF reviews than I do with negative reviews.

sjhigbee August 12, 2019 - 5:05 pm

I suspect the author and publisher would rather have a DNF than a rotten review. And speaking as an author myself – once you let your book loose on the world, you need to stand back and accept that it won’t suit everyone:).

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 14, 2019 - 4:30 pm

I think seeing some of the rather….violent reactions from authors on twitter toward bloggers writing negative reviews has got me a bit worried about my own negative reviews. 🙂

sjhigbee August 15, 2019 - 2:37 am

Hm. I don’t go there. And the received wisdom for authors is to suck it up.

If you take the decision to publish a book, then while you hope people are going to love it – you must accept that others will hate it. If you can’t cope with that, then you have no business turning your work loose on the public. Obviously I’m talking about reasoned reviews, rather than trolling or someone giving a book one star because they think it costs too much… I’m also talking with my author head on, rather than as a blogger!

Ola G August 8, 2019 - 5:57 pm

I know how you felt – I don’t like to DNF books but I think I don’t like finishing books I’d otherwise DNFed even more. Great review, Kathy!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky August 13, 2019 - 1:05 pm

Thank you, Olga!! The guilt of DNF’ing books is real and I don’t think it’ll ever die completely for me, but I definitely feel a LOT worse when I force myself to finish something I’m not enjoying.

@lynnsbooks August 9, 2019 - 4:57 am

To be honest I liked this one – but, it’s definitely not for everyone and I completely see that. It feels almost old style in terms of the literary style. But, that being said I picked up the second book and really couldn’t get along with it. I might try again at some point but, like you with this one, I simply had to put it down because it was frustrating me.
Lynn 😀

waytoofantasy August 10, 2019 - 12:03 pm

Sorry this one didn’t work for you, Kathy! Hope your next read is a better fit.

maddalena@spaceandsorcery August 12, 2019 - 10:16 am

This book had caught my attention some time ago, but the few not-so-enthusiastic reviews I read alongside the more positive ones did manage to curb my curiosity: when a book gathers conflicting comments I tend to stay away from it…
Thanks for sharing! 🙂


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