Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee

Cunning Women Book Cover

Cunning Women
Elizabeth Lee
General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Women's Fiction
Random House UK


A bewitching debut from a magnetic new voice in historical fiction. CUNNING WOMEN is sure to be loved by fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mercies.

They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.

1620s, Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwell amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk, the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should your needs require. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.

When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is, a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?

And when a new magistrate arrives to rid out those behind the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.

Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.

“Cunning Women” by Elizabeth Lee weaves a captivating tale that seamlessly blends historical fiction with a touch of magical realism. Set against the backdrop of the 17th-century witch trials, the novel follows the life of cunning woman Sarah, who possesses healing powers and a deep connection with nature. Lee’s lyrical prose transports readers to a time when superstition and fear held sway, as well as celebrates the resilience of those who challenged societal norms.

The author’s meticulous research is evident, as she paints a vivid picture of the era’s beliefs and practices. The characters are richly developed, each with their own complexities and struggles, making it easy to become emotionally invested in their fates. The interplay between the natural world and the supernatural elements adds an enchanting layer to the narrative, evoking a sense of wonder.

“Cunning Women” is not just a story about magic; it delves into themes of women’s empowerment, the fight against oppression, and the enduring strength of friendships. Elizabeth Lee’s novel is a spellbinding journey that lingers in the mind, leaving readers both enchanted and enlightened.



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