Elizabeth Lee

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Cunning Women

book | Fiction | Apr 2021

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.


Liz Dennis manages the translation rights for Cunning Women

Translation Rights Sold

Ullstein Buchverlage
Eksmo Publishers

I loved it. Atmospheric and so good

Marian Keyes

Lee’s raw and evocative 17th-century world crackles with tension, and the Haworths offer a moving portrait of youth, wildness, and unbreakable family bonds. A haunting tale with a brutal twist

Emily Brand, author of The Fall of the House of Byron

Wonderfully original... devastating... and fabulously atmospheric

Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den

Elizabeth Lee's debut novel is timely in its depiction of hysteria and persecution, and beautifully evokes a historical period poised between dark ignorance and long-overdue enlightenment

The Observer

Fans of intensely atmospheric historical fiction will love this


A dark, bewitching and captivating read that had my heart in my mouth by the ending

Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne

Lucy Morris
+44 (0) 20 7393 4400
Email Lucy Morris
Translation Rights
Liz Dennis

Email Liz Dennis