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Cold Boy's Wood

by Carol Birch

Crime / Mystery Modern and Contemporary Fiction Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on Cold Boy's Wood

Subtle in style and fierce in characterisation, Carol Birch’s Cold Boy’s Wood is a haunting psychological enigma. Exploring the flux and fallibility of memory, and the effects of loneliness on the human spirit, the novel is a puzzle, of sorts, as two flawed and damaged characters are confronted with long-buried secrets when a mudslide unearths a body outside their village.

Visiting his mother’s grave near the site of the mudslide, Dan observes “Ravens. The wet nose of the pregnant doe. A body returned to light. Things falling into sequence. All these things seemed significant.” Embittered, often drunk, and scared stiff by the supernatural, he’s disturbed by a sound in the darkness and locks up. Then there’s Lorna, who lives nearby in the ancient woods that have called her since she saw a strange “cold boy” here as a teenager. The boy haunts her still, along with her past, as she watches Dan, and helps him when he collapses drunk, all the while delivering a feverish internal dialogue. Both of them provoke intrigue, their lives entangle, their stories haunt and pierce to the end.

Joanne Owen

Cold Boy's Wood Synopsis

Fusing the ghost story with sharp, psychological insight, this is a brilliant and timely novel about loneliness, buried secrets and the havoc they play on the mind from Booker-shortlisted author Carol Birch.

Did you hear? Big landslip over by Ercol. Last night. The road into Gully's closed off. They found a body. Got police tape. All that stuff. They only do that for murder, don't they? Murder!

A body has been uncovered in a mudslide just outside the village of Andwiston. In the pub they talk of murder, but Dan - sometime mechanic, constant drunk - is finding it hard to sift through his jumbled memories. Watching him from the dark is Lorna, a lost soul living in the woods, haunted by ghosts and a vision from her childhood: a cold boy standing alone in Gallinger's field. 

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Closing date: 30/06/2021

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Cold Boy's Wood Press Reviews


'Birch is a naturally literary writer who can, with a simple image, evoke the deepest emotion' Guardian.

'Carol Birch's fiction continues to stretch bodies and minds to breaking point ... Marvellous and terrifying' Sunday Times.

'One of the best stories I've ever read; an extraordinarily good and completely original book' A.S. Byatt, on Jamrach's Menagerie.

'Her prose has an irresistible vigour ... Her words sing on the page' Financial Times.

'Her candid northern voice cuts sadness free of sentimentality and finds intensity and drama in the everyday' - The Times

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781838939410
Publication date: 01/04/2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781838939403
Publication date: 01/04/2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Ebook

Book Information

ISBN: 9781838939410
Publication date: 1st April 2021
Author: Carol Birch
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: Crime / Mystery, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Thriller / suspense, Crime & mystery, Horror & ghost stories,

About Carol Birch

Carol Birch is the author of nine previous novels including Scapegallows and Turn Again Home, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has won the Geoffrey Faber Award and the David Higham Award. She lives in Lancashire.   Author Photo © Martin Butler

More About Carol Birch

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Cover for Cold Boy's Wood by Carol Birch
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Cover for Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
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