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REVIEW: The Ghost Woods by C. J. Cooke

Published: October 13th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Gothic Ficiton, Fairy Tale, Mystery, Suspense, Supernatural Fiction, Magical Realism, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook



In the midst of the woods stands a house called Lichen Hall.

This place is shrouded in folklore – old stories of ghosts, of witches, of a child who is not quite a child.

Now the woods are creeping closer, and something has been unleashed.

Pearl Gorham arrives in 1965, one of a string of young women sent to Lichen Hall to give birth. And she soon suspects the proprietors are hiding something.

Then she meets the mysterious mother and young boy who live in the grounds – and together they begin to unpick the secrets of this place.

As the truth comes to the surface and the darkness moves in, Pearl must rethink everything she knew – and risk what she holds most dear.



Hauntingly atmospheric and eerie, The Ghost Woods was the perfect read for this time of year.  Chilling, mysterious and bursting with folklore, a sense of dread lingers over every page.  I read with my heart in my throat and the light turned on, eager to discover the truth yet also fearful of what was to come.  And don’t even try to get me to go into the woods anytime soon.

I was a big fan of C. J. Cooke’s last two novels so I was anticipating another great read but with its exquisite storytelling, richly drawn characters and evocative imagery, this is my favourite of her books so far.  The strange rumours and eerie folklore surrounding Litchen Hall and the woods cast a sinister shadow, while an atmosphere of isolation and helplessness lingers over every word. 

Gorgeously gothic, claustrophobic and menacing, The Ghost Woods is an addictive tale that will captivate and unnerve you.  Add this spooky story to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



CJ Cooke, also known as Carolyn Jess-Cooke, grew up on a council estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles. She started writing at the age of 7 and pestered publishers for many years with manuscripts typed on her grandparents’ old typewriter and cover notes written on pages ripped from school jotters. 

Since then, she has published 15 books in 23 languages and won numerous awards, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Tyrone Guthrie Prize, a K Blundell Award, and she has won a Northern Writer’s Award three times. In 2011, her debut novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, was published by Little, Brown. The novel was an international bestseller. Her second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), is a cult classic. Her sixth novel, The Lighthouse Witches, was published in October 2021, and was an Indigo Book of the Month, an international bestseller, a New York Public Library Book of the Year and nominated for both an Edgar Award by Mystery Writers of America and an ITW Thriller Award in 2022. It is soon to be a major TV series produced by StudioCanal and The Picture Company. The Ghost Woods is her latest novel and is published in October 2022.

CJ holds a BA (Hons), MA, and PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast, and commenced her academic career in 2005 as a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sunderland. Shortly thereafter, she published four academic works in swift succession on Shakespearean Cinema and Film Sequels, before establishing her career as a poet, editor, and novelist.

Now Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, CJ convenes the prestigious MLitt Creative Writing and researches ways that creative writing can help with trauma and mental health. Throughout 2013-18 she directed the Writing Motherhood project, which explored the impact of motherhood on women’s writing. She is also the founder and director of the Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which is dedicated to providing people with accessible, inclusive, and eco-friendly ways to access literature.

CJ has four children and lives with her family in Glasgow, Scotland.

(Taken from C. J. Cooke’s website)



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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