Cynthia Murphy with CC Buckley

Young adult thriller author wins Lancashire Book of the Year for second year running

An author from Bury has won Lancashire's Book of the Year Award 2023 – the first female author in the history of the competition to win the award twice.

The award was won by Cynthia Murphy, young adult thriller author, for her book Win Lose Kill Die, a year after she took home the prize for Last One to Die.

Organised by Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Book of the Year is the longest running young people's regional book award in the country.

Now in its 37th year, the award remains one of the few book awards where young people themselves are entirely responsible for drawing up the shortlist and choosing the overall winner.

County Councillor Jayne Rear, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for education and skills, said: "Lancashire Book of the Year is a brilliant award that enables young adults across the county to share their love of reading.

"Studies have shown that children who enjoy reading and read regularly reap the benefits in many areas including academically, socially and in their wellbeing.

"I would like to thank everyone who took part in this year's judging process.

"I also want to send our congratulations to Cynthia Murphy for being the first person to win this award two years in a row and for being the first female author to win on two separate occasions."

The winning book, Win Lose Kill Die, tells the story of students at Morton Academy, a school which selects based on academic excellence. When a series of murders target the school's brightest and best, the pressure is on to uncover the truth and stop the killer.

After receiving her prize at an awards ceremony, Cynthia said: "Thank you so much for voting Win Lose Kill Die to be Lancashire Book of The Year 2023. It means the absolute world.

"This is extra special because I grew up in Bury and think of myself as a Lancashire lass.

"Getting your little weird ideas out into the world is quite an unusual thing so the fact that so many people resonate with it is just wonderful."

The Lancashire Book of the Year was the first regional book award for children when it was originally launched in 1987. It was won that year by Philip Pullman, who went on to have great success with the His Dark Materials trilogy, and has previously been won by authors including Malorie Blackman, Anthony Horowitz and Sarah Crossan.

For the past 23 years the award has been sponsored by UCLan.

This year, Year 9 pupils from 32 high schools took part in the judging process, with representation from across the whole of Lancashire as well as Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.

The young judges started with a long list of 65 young adult fiction books from which they shortlisted 11 titles.

The county council's library service worked with eBook partner BorrowBox to ensure the judges had access to the shortlisted titles as eBooks as well as the physical copies in their schools. From those 11 books, the judges were tasked with selecting the winner, which was done via a confidential vote in June 2023.

County Councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for community and cultural services, said:  "Lancashire Book of the Year is a really fun way to engage young adults and foster a love of reading.

"Reading for pleasure opens the door for young adults to explore new ideas and visit new worlds and characters that live long in the memory.

"It's great to see so many young people get involved with this year after year and I hope this encourages them to continue reading well into their adult lives."

This year's judging schools were:

  • Accrington Academy, Hyndburn
  • Archbishop Temple School, Preston
  • Ashton Community Science College, Preston
  • Broadfield Specialist School, Burnley
  • Broughton High School, Preston
  • Central Lancaster High School, Lancaster
  • Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Ribble Valley
  • Colne Primet Academy, Pendle
  • Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, Blackburn
  • Fleetwood High School, Wyre
  • Haslingden High School, Rossendale
  • Kirkham Grammar School, Fylde
  • Lancaster Girls' Grammar School, Lancaster
  • Lathom High School, West Lancs
  • Lostock Hall Academy, South Ribble
  • Our Lady Queen of Peace, West Lancs
  • Parklands Academy, Chorley
  • Pendle Vale College, Pendle
  • Penwortham Priory Academy, South Ribble
  • Preston Muslim Girls High School, Preston
  • Rhyddings, Hyndburn
  • Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy, Lancaster
  • Saint Bede's Catholic High School, Fylde
  • Saint Wilfrid's Church of England Academy, Blackburn
  • South Shore Academy, Blackpool
  • Southlands High School, Chorley
  • Stonyhurst College, Ribble Valley
  • Tarleton Academy, West Lancs
  • Unity College, Burnley
  • West Craven High School, Pendle
  • Whitworth Community High School, Rossendale

The shortlisted books and authors were:

  • Dark and Shallow Lies – Ginny Myers Sain
  • Defy The Night – Brigid Kemmerer
  • Ghosted – Emily Barr
  • Her Dark Wings – Melinda Salisbury
  • Medusa – Jessie Burton
  • Once Upon a Fever – Angharad Walker
  • Outside Chance – Anthony Kessel
  • The Hawthorne Legacy – Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • The King Is Dead – Benjamin Dean
  • Twin Crowns – Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber
  • Win Lose Kill Die – Cynthia Murphy

Find out more about Lancashire County Council libraries and the Lancashire Book of the Year at