I’m thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for incredible debut novel The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Zaffre Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this beautifully written and memorable book.
About the book:
To save her child, she will trust a stranger. To protect a secret, she must risk her life…
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.
When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.
When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?
As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.
Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.
About the author:
Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also worked as a journalist for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine. TV rights have been sold to The Bureau production company.
The Familiars is her first novel and her second, The Foundling, is coming Feb 2020. Say hello @Stacey_Halls on Twitter and @StaceyHallsAuthor on Instagram.
The Familiars by Stacey Halls is one of those books that once started it’s impossible to put down. And if you do have to put it down (you know, to eat, sleep, work…) it stays on your mind the whole time until you’re able to pick it up again.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Pendle witches, so this book appealed to me from the very start. It tells the story of Fleetwood Shuttleworth, who is seventeen years old, married to Richard and pregnant for the fourth time in as many years. She still has no living child and her husband is desperate for an heir. So when Fleetwood stumbles across a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is horrified to discover that she isn’t expected to survive another pregnancy.
Fleetwood prides herself on being an independent woman, something that’s frowned upon in the oppressive seventeenth century. She loves to ride and to go hunting with her husband, defying all expectations of what is acceptable for a woman of her social standing to do. On one of her trips out alone Fleetwood crosses paths with Alice Gray, a young midwife, who promises to help her not only to give birth to a healthy baby but also to prove the doctor’s prediction wrong.
But then Alice is accused of witchcraft and Fleetwood knows she must do everything in her power to help her. The witchcraft trials of the Pendle witches are the stuff legends are made of and add a fascinating element to the story that kept me riveted. But this book is so much more than just a story about witches familiars and dark magic, it’s also a story of female strength and resilience at a time when male privilege was so strong. It’s the story of a friendship between two women from very different backgrounds, who somehow find the courage to fight against the oppressive restraints of society. It kept me enthralled from beginning to end and I absolutely adored this book!
It’s historical fiction at its very best, captivating you from its opening lines and carrying you away on a wave of emotion as the story of these two remarkable young women unfolds. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel as the writing is so accomplished, but Stacey Halls has written a mesmerising tale that will stay with you long after the final page has been turned.
I can’t wait to read The Foundlings, the author’s second book which is due to be released early next year. If it’s anywhere near as good as The Familiars we’re in for a real treat!
The Familiars by Stacey Halls is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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