Celia Rees

The Cunning Man

The Cunning Man cover


Finn is not at all sure about the Salt House. Overlooking the dramatic sweep of Westwater Bay, it brings back all her nightmare fears of drowning, of the ghosts of the dead reaching out for her… And Westwater is dangerous. Countless seafarers have lost their lives there, ships lost, broken on the vicious Viper Rocks, lured by wreckers’ false lights, summoned by the dark enchantments of cunning men – masters of sea or tide. Or so the legends say, but all that was a long time ago. It cannot be happening now. So why does Finn feel such fear? Is it her old terror back again, or something new entirely?

Celia’s comments

‘Like Finn, I nearly drowned when I was a small child. The Cunning Man begins with a recurring dream that I had for many years (although it seemed to stop when I wrote this book). Unlike Finn, I was not left with a fear of the water. I love going to the sea on holiday but, being a writer, I come back with more than pebbles and shells. I collect stories, local legends. Round the dangerous coasts of Britain, these are often about wrecks and wrecking and associated ghosts and hauntings. I set The Cunning Man in South Wales, the home of the Gwyr y Bwelli Bach, Men of the Little Hatchets , but I also used stories from North Wales, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.’


"An atmospheric modern-day ghost story packed with mystery and suspense. Rees is a writer who knows how to send a strong shiver down her readers’ spines. The story of The Cunning Man will unsettle your thoughts and have you checking under the bed before you go to sleep at night." South China Sunday Post, January 2001

"Past and present collide in this racy thriller. Enough drama and atmosphere to keep you right on the edge." Daily Telegraph, July 2000

".a series of highly charged confrontations, played out against vividly realised scene of natural and elemental disturbance" Times Educational Supplement, August 2000

"The Cunning Man is a pleasantly chilling story with well-descripted imagery and a good sense of atmosphere as it effortlessly conveys the rising tensions of the looming storms, the building rivalry and hate that will spill over onto the sea-faring township and the creepy unknown of the unfathomable deep ocean" teenterain.com, July 2001

There is plenty to feed the imagination in this book. The Cunning Man – recommended by the School Library Association’s magazine for its ‘strong hint of evil’ – is a quick, satisfying read for anyone over the age of 12. AngliaCampus (www.angliacampus.com)