Lost Acre: Rotherweird book 3 by Andrew Caldecott (book review).

‘Lost Acre’ is the third instalment in the world of ‘Rotherweird’. Given separate status by Elizabeth the First, after a series of terrible events, it remains relatively untouched by the modern world. Not dominated by Instagram or Twitter, trolls it is a quaint little town and a little bit of countryside where children play outside and people have no distractions like technology.

Sounds awful. One of the main rules in Rotherweird is that historic cannot be taught but as we all know if we cannot learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

Rotherweird is populated by an array of characters who thus far have tried to save it from the worst of itself. The hapless outsider, Jonas Oblong, is the teacher of modern history at the local school. He feels inadequate against the onslaught of power he’s already tried to face down. Orelia Roc, owner of the local antique shop, is another heroine sorely tested and facing great personal loss. Gregory Jones, PE teacher and freedom fighter, has more challenges to face and Vixen Valourhand is living with the guilt of her own failure to save a companion.

Third book means final battle and ‘Lost Acre’ follows this tradition as a resurrected Geryon Wynter arrives to take power in the town. Loyalties are challenged and secret disguises revealed in a wide-ranging finale that puts the trilogy to bed.

There are some complex ideas in the narrative. A strong sense of place evokes the mythical Merrie Old England and the mistaken belief that we would all be a lot happier without iPhones. Ideas about the state versus the individual and how easily a dictator can use the electoral system to gain power and populism are very timely. Folklore plays its part with magic and mystery part of the resolution and this includes additional narratives that precede and explain what eventually happens.

This is another trilogy that deserves a leisurely re-read because reading it as a whole give the reader a chance to reabsorb the concepts and events. Often when books are spaced so far apart and you read a lot it can be difficult to jump back in. There is always some catching up and, luckily, there is a handy character guide at the front for reference.

The trilogy is ambitious in his scope. I wouldn’t say I totally bought into the inhabitants of Rotherweird, though. I think the sense of place as both backdrop and theatre of war is very good and it does have more depth than many of its inhabitants. The books are highly visual with lots of loving details. The mythology and history along with the interaction between the town, the Mixing Point and Lost Acre on the other side are incredibly inventive but despite that I did not feel totally engaged at all times.

If you like fantasy stories with an intriguing mythology then the series is definitely worthwhile. There is a lot to be enjoyed but I do want a bit more than skating along the surface of the characters in the end.

Sue Davies

September 2019

(pub: Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus, 2019. 473 page hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78747-376-6)

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