Books › Cwen

cwēn (n.f.) Old English: Woman, wife, female ruler of a state

A storm, a disappearance, a band of women, and a remote island where anything is possible…

An archipelago off the east coast of Britain comes under female rule. Inspired by ancient British stories, the women secretly take charge of the islands’ education, businesses and institutions.

But a revolution by stealth is not enough for Cwen. She has been here longer than the civilization she has come back to haunt. Her name has ancient roots, reaching down into the earth and halfway around the world, and the islands she inhabits have always belonged to women. Now she has returned to hold them to account.

Exploring female power and female potential, both to shelter and to harm, Cwen reaches deep into Britain’s matriarchal past, to ask how radical we might be, if given the chance.

Guardian Book of the Year 2021
Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2022
Shortlisted for Scotland’s National Book Awards: Fiction

“A wild ride!… with female magic & transformations… & very funny.”

— Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“Magical, rich and magnificent.”

— Maxine Peake

“A sure-footed feminist reimagining of the present and the past that brushes up against the mythical. It reminds us, eloquently and passionately, what is or can be, and in its depiction of a revolution becomes a revolutionary book itself. A beautiful work.”

— Neel Mukherjee, A State of Freedom

Book cover by Jason Hicklin