Today I’m sharing one of my recent reads, the atmospheric, historical fiction novel The Familiars by the lovely Stacey Halls.
I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I was lucky enough to read a proof copy of Stacey Halls’ second book The Foundling, back in February, which I loved! You can check out my review for this fantastic book here.
But onto The Familiars…
The story follows the fates of two very different women whose lives become inextricably intwined in the lead up to the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials.
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is Mistress of Gawthorpe Hall. Seventeen years old and pregnant for the fourth time, with no previous success, she is running out of hope.
Alice Gray is a local girl, making her way in the world as best she can, earning from the locally known ‘wise women’. But she has a past shrouded in secrets waiting to catch up with her.
When Fleetwood discovers her husbands secret correspondences, things become desperate and she enlists Alice’s help as her midwife. Alice is to use her skills to preserve the life of Fleetwood and her baby. But little does Fleetwood know that she too will find herself using her own skills to save Alice’s life, as her midwifes name becomes dangerously associated with the Pendle Witches…
Now each must live to save the life of the other.
An incredibly atmospheric read; I could see the mist of the North West landscape, feel the pickle on the back of my neck when Fleetwood felt watched and sense the powerlessness of not knowing who to trust. A dexterous weaving of fact, fiction, superstition and nature.
I loved the links to history and especially enjoyed the authors note at the back, talking about the real story of Gawthorpe Hall, used to inspire the fabric of Stacey’s own fictional creation.
Meg Readz xx
Trigger warning: Traumatic accounts of miscarriage and childbirth.