Covid-19 update London-based courses are back, with safety still our top concern – find out more here.

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28 October 2021

10 spooky reads for Halloween

by Katie Smart Writing Tips

If you’re looking for a book to sink your fangs into this autumn then your search is over. This bewitching reading list, featuring stories by our former students and teaching team, has a book for everyone – whether you’re after a fright or just a little bit of magic…

Cunning Women, Elizabeth Lee

This historical novel is by former scholarship student Elizabeth Lee. The story is set in seventeenth century Lancashire, ten years after the Pendle witch trials – where the Haworth family are despised by the other villagers for being ‘cunning folk’. A powerful love story sits at the heart of this bewitching read.

Read our interview with Elizabeth to find out about her time studying with us.


The Doll Funeral, Kate Hamer

This dark psychological thriller is the second novel by former student Kate Hamer. It follows 13-year-old Ruby who has ties to something otherworldly and supernatural. Ruby has just discovered she isn’t living with her biological parents and is determined to find her ‘real’ family.

Check out Kate’s top writing tips blog.


Ghostcloud, Michael Mann

This magical middle grade adventure story by alumnus Michael Mann is set in a dystopian London, where children are forced to work shovelling coal underneath a ruined power station. 12-year-old Luke’s life takes an unexpected turn when he discovers a secret ability and befriends a ghost-girl named alma.

Read Michael’s blog about writing diverse characters to learn more about Ghostcloud’s protagonist Luke.


Hag, Various Authors

This anthology of British and Irish folktale retellings from ten brilliant female authors is deliciously dark with unexpected twists. It includes an original story by Discoveries 2022 judge Irenosen Okojie.

Read our interview with Irenosen Okojie for insights into how she transforms the everyday into something unusual in her fiction.


The Haunting Season, Various Authors

This chilling anthology of short stories includes ghostly tales from eight acclaimed authors, including CBC tutors Andrew Michael Hurley and Jess Kidd.

Read our interview with Andrew Michael Hurley here.


Last One to Die, Cynthia Murphy

This YA horror novel tells the chilling story of 16-year-old Niamh, who is visiting London from Ireland. She soon discovers that there is a string of attacks on young women who bear a frighteningly similar resemblance to her.

Read our interview with former Writing YA & Children’s Fiction student Cynthia Murphy.


Plague Land, SD Sykes

This is the first book in alumna SD Sykes’ Somershill Manor Mysteries series, set in 1350s England in the wake of the Black Death. When a young women is violently murdered the priest claims it to be the work of a demonic dog-headed man.

Check out this blog on writing a series by SD Sykes.


salt slow, Julia Armfield

This collection of short stories from alumna Julia Armfield is drenched in gothic imagery and magical realism. You’ll be transported to uncanny landscapes where bodies are picked apart to make new ones and all the inhabitants of a city become insomniacs overnight.

Get Julia’s six top tips for writing short stories.


Starve Acre, Andrew Michael Hurley

This modern gothic horror novel explores the grief felt by the Wiloughby’s when their 5-year-old son dies suddenly, and their quiet house by the moors quickly becomes a haunted place.


The Well, Catherine Chanter

This haunting narrative is set in a dystopian, drought-stricken UK where rain hasn’t fallen for two years. The only place that remains luscious and green is The Well at Mark and Ruth’s country home. When people start to believe this is the work of witchcraft a supposed blessing quickly becomes a curse.

Find out more about Catherine Chanter’s time studying with us.

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