Many thanks to Tracy Fenton and Compulsive Readers for my spot on this Blog Tour.
This was a beautifully written story which gripped me from the first time I laid my eyes on the cover and read the blurb. I don’t frequently read historical fiction, but once I started with the first line, I couldn’t let go of my kindle.
Two women in the 1612, during the era of the Pendle Witch Trials, living in a male dominated society, under the reign of their King James, the story depicted their unlikely bond. Their friendship surpassed all the class differences that prevailed in those times.
Fleetwood was 17 years old and has had 3 miscarriages. A letter from a doctor found in her husband’s study convinced her that she would not survive her 4th. Alice was found on her land who claimed to be a midwife, learning the power of herbs from her mother, and hence was hired by Fleetwood.
In the same timeframe, there was a hunt for women accused to be witches. This story was about Fleetwood and Alice’s friendship amidst an atmosphere of superstition and persecution. And then Alice was accused of being a witch and thrown into the gaol.
My first book by author Stacey Halls, I was blown away by the way her writing captivated me. It was clean and crisp with the lines evoking powerful imagery. Their emerging trust had me championing and rooting for the two women. My heart turned over when Alice was wrenched away and accused to be a witch. The crux of the story rested on what would Fleetwood do in her heavily pregnant state to save her friend.
I loved Fleetwood, the author’s strokes of the pen gave her a complete outlook. As a 17 year old, with modern yet slightly antiquated views, she captured my attention from the get-go. The author’s lines made the character grow with every page. My connection with her grew stronger, and there was nothing more I wanted than to know if she and her baby would survive and if she could do something to save Alice.
Fleetwood was the driving force who brought this story to life, Alice with her subtle ways was the spirit of this book. Together they bound this historical tale, weaving their subtle emotions into the dark atmosphere of those times, revealing the different facets of the other characters, making this book a compelling read.
I received a free ARC from NetGalley and publisher, and this is my journey into its pages, straight from the heart!! STRICTLY HONEST AND UNBIASED.
All my reviews can be read here
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.
In 1612 Lancaster, England, the hunt for witches has reached a fever pitch…
But in a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman may be the greatest risk of all.
Fleetwood Shuttleworth, the mistress of Pendle Hill’s Gawthorpe Hall, is with child. Anxious to produce an heir, she is distraught to find a letter from her physician that warns her husband she will not survive this pregnancy.
Devastated, Fleetwood wanders the estate grounds, where she catches a young woman poaching. Alice Gray claims she is a local midwife and promises to help Fleetwood deliver a healthy baby. But a witch-obsessed frenzy sweeps the countryside. Even woodland creatures or “familiars” are thought to be dark companions of the unholy. And Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.
Time is running out. The witch trials are about to begin. With both their lives at stake, Fleetwood must prove Alice’s innocence. Only they know the truth.
Set against the real Pendle witch trials, this compelling novel draws its characters from historical figures as it explores the lives of seventeenth-century women. Ultimately it raises the question: Was witch hunting really just women hunting?
Publication Date: 1st October 2019