Cunning Women

Dear Reader,

Happy Monday 🙂

I’ve got a particularly brilliant book to share with you today!

If you follow me on Twitter you may know that I recently attended the virtual event #MythsMadamsandMurder in which, authors Jennifer Saint, Lucy Holland, Phoebe Wynne and Elizabeth Lee were in conversation with book vlogger and podcast host Jean Menzies (all of whom you can find on Twitter). It was a fantastic event and I really enjoyed listening to these amazing women talk all things fiction, history, feminism and more!

Of their four books I had, at the time, only read Madam by Phoebe Wynne (my review for which you can read here). Since then I have been working my way through the other three and have now read Sistersong (read my review here) and Cunning Women

Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee

~ Historical Fiction ~

When it is no longer safe to be a witch, they call themselves cunning...

Seventeenth-century Lancashire is a dark and mistrustful place. Ten years after the notorious Pendle witch trials saw ten accused witches hanged, young Sarah Haworth and her family live as outcasts in a ruined hamlet. The inhabitants of the nearby village despise ‘cunning folk’ like them, but their services – healing balms, herbal remedies – will always be in demand, and they have a way of coming to know all the village’s secrets.

A chance meeting sees Sarah become acquainted with Daniel, a young man from the village. In him, she sees a clever, caring man; in her, he sees not the strange, dirty outcast he knows he should, but rather the strong young woman coming into her own.

As they are drawn closer together, a new magistrate arrives in the area to investigate a spate of strange deaths befalling the villagers. Inevitably, his eye falls on Sarah’s family, and his hand carries a burning torch. In the face of persecution, something as fragile as love seems impossible…


Cunning Women was a truly immersive and compelling read that bristled with the supernatural.

Lee conjures the attitudes and customs of the early 1600’s effortlessly. Local dialogue and daily tasks are as intricately described as the inbuilt psyches of fear, jealousy, hate and love that are simultaneously timeless and yet grown as a product of the era.

Daniel and Sarah’s story is built on the seemingly simple premise of love – and yet the plot evolved and grew around this desire, encompassing much wider reaching issues of acceptance and the consequences of hate and fear in dividing a community. Ultimately, it was also a story of humanity and my heart went out to more than one character along the way as events spiralled ever more tragically out of control…

The balance of historical and supernatural, emotion and psyche, all blend to create an immersive setting and enthralling storyline.

A story of love, hate, fear and strong women.

Loved it!

Meg xx

PS. Onto #MythsMadamsandMurder book four: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint – so excited for this one!

9 thoughts on “Cunning Women

    1. I would say that the main premise of the story is the evolving romantic relationship between Daniel and Sarah. The witchy/supernatural and historical setting acted more as context and backdrop/obstacles to that relationship. In truth, the romance did annoy me at points but the authenticity of the history was enough to make it a winner for me – and (no spoilers) the ending sealed it! I would recommend Stacey Halls ‘The Familiars’ over this if you’re not keen on too much romance – have you read that?

      Liked by 1 person

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