• Publication date: 7 Feb 2019
  • Publisher: Zaffre
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07DW9F469
  • Source: ARC copy via Publishers Zaffre via NetGalley

My Review

Well firstly, I’ve developed a complete cover crush for the cover of this book. How lovely is the beautifully illustrated cover?

Intrigued by the description of this book and the fact that there was a bidding war for the rights, I was delighted to see it on NetGalley and was over the moon to be accepted.

The book is set in the 17c in Lancashire against the backdrop of the real life events surrounding the Pendle Witch Trials during the reign of James I.

Fleetwood Shuttleworth mistress of Gawthorpe Hall is a young married woman of seventeen. She’s suffered four miscarriages during her marriage and now newly pregnant is anxious for her pregnancy to proceed so that she can provide an heir for her husband Richard. After discovering a troubling letter addressed to him by a doctor proclaiming that his wife may not survive another pregnancy she feels desperate enough to seek out any means to deliver a healthy baby and survive the birth herself. Fleetwood befriends an enigmatic young woman called Alice Gray who is a local midwife. Alice, despite her own misgivings Of treating the gentry ministers mixtures, herbal remedies and potions to Fleetwood with a spot of bloodletting inbetween. Fleetwood thrives under Alice’s care and is horrified to discover that Alice is suspected, along with associates of hers, of witchcraft.

After fleeing the area and trying to keep Alice safe, events catch up with them and there is a frantic battle to save the life of Alice, without whom Fleetwood fears for the lives of her coming child and herself.

Although I was a bit cross with Fleetwood for her frantic horse riding all across Lancashire while with child, it was really the only way to travel at speed during that time and lives were at stake. In a time when women belonged to their husbands and had few rights, I became really caught up in the urgency of the situation and wanted it all to end well frantically turning the pages to find out what happened to them all.

The atmosphere of the time was perfectly recreated I felt and found this historical fiction taken from fact enjoyable reading from start to finish

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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 written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.