Lisa Rookes

Lisa is an award-winning journalist and lecturer. She spent the start of her career as a crime reporter and news editor before moving to national newspapers and women’s magazines.

She is currently head of the undergraduate Journalism programme at the University of Sheffield and has won further multiple awards for her teaching.

Her debut gothic thriller The Vanishing of Joni Blackwood is published 2024.

She lives in Holmfirth in South Yorkshire with her husband, two sons, an arthritic Labrador and a disabled pug.



The Vanishing of Joni Blackwood

Lisa Rookes

The debris from the night before is scattered underneath the village tree and across the cobbles. Red wine stains the ground like blood. And Joni has vanished.

Joni Blackwood is my best friend. She was there for my first crush, stood beside me at my wedding, watched my daughter grow up. She’s been there through the painful mess of the divorce, too. So when she suddenly goes missing on All Gallows’ Eve, I’m first to raise the alarm.

People outside the village say she must have been sacrificed in some pagan ritual. But All Gallows’ Eve isn’t like that. We’re just simple folk enjoying an annual bonfire to keep an old tradition alive. It’s mulled cider and local mums running charity bake sales to be in with a chance of winning Gallows Queen. Joni wins every year.

My mum used to say this village was built on the roots of The Gallows Tree, that they’re underneath the ground, under all of our houses. It used to scare me as a kid. Thick, snaking roots squirming under me. No matter how far you ran, they could tunnel after you. And when the bones of a small child are unearthed in the church graveyard, I have to wonder how many secrets are running through our village, like the roots of the tree. And I wonder if Joni can really outrun hers. And I wonder if I can really outrun mine.

Creepy, dark, and twisted!

— Sharon Bolton, author of The Craftsman

‘This one is for all the gothic thriller fans… A gripping, pacy read with bold characters, gasp-out-loud twists, and an ending you’ll never see coming.’

— Carly Reagon, author of The Toll House