Book Review: The Ghost Woods by C.J. Cooke

Set to be published on 13th October, The Ghost Woods by C.J. Cooke is set in the midst of the woods where a house called Lichen Hall stands. This place is shrouded in folklore – old stories of ghosts, of witches, of a child who was 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.

Rating:

Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

One of my favourite reads last Halloween was The Lighthouse Witches, and author C.J. Cooke has done it again with her latest release, The Ghost Woods.

This was another perfect read for the spooky season! There is witchcraft, fairies, zombies, creepy children, a remote house, gruesome body horror, tales of folklore, and a tense gothic vibe, all set alongside themes of feminism, motherhood, and nature. What more could you want?

Atmospheric and mysteriously alluring, The Ghost Woods is a beautifully obscure and fantastical gothic historical fiction full of imagination and dark curiosity.

So much about the story kept drawing me in – the setting, the characters, the research that went into making everything seem authentic – I wanted to visit every part of the house and grounds and question every character about their past to find out everything going on. Because you definitely won’t have read a story like this before, and Cooke does a fantastic job of bringing the wildness of nature indoors (literally).

Set in the puzzling Lichen Hall and told through two timelines, the past (1959) and present (1965), there’s a lot to uncover, but I definitely couldn’t predict what was behind it all. I was gripped throughout, as the compelling characters who come together in their desperation helped lead me through this maze of peculiarities.

The themes of sexuality, gender equality, and motherhood are explored brilliantly in both the setting and time period, showing how we have progressed in certain areas but also discussing the different ways in which a woman’s body can often not feel like their own.

“The reality is that my body is no longer mine at all. I’m possessed, inhabited, less a human being than a bloody hotel.”

There is so much to love about this book and it was easily a five-star read for me. It’s the perfect read over the autumn months and C.J. Cooke is most definitely an author I now get excited about!

Details:

The Ghost Woods by C.J. Cooke
Release Date: 13th October 2022
Print Length: 416 pages
Genre: Gothic Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins

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