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 by Elizabeth Lee