Today I’m thrilled to be taking past in the paperback release blog tour for The Familiars by Stacey Halls. I’m thrilled that it has been chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick for 2019. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite.
About this 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.
Then 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.
As 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?
Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as 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.
What an absolutely stunning book! I loved everything about it from that perfectly designed cover to the story bound within it. And the most fascinating part of the whole book was at the very back when you find out that much of this book is based around real events and characters from the time. There really was a Fleetwood Shuttleworth (best heroines name EVER!) who lived around the time of the Pendle witches and Stacey Halls has threaded these historical events to complement her characters which have then been woven into this stunning fictional account to create a deeply compelling narrative. Once I picked this book up I really did struggle to put it down. And now I’ve finished it I do have the worst book hangover EVER!
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is only 17 but has already delivered 3 dead babies. Pregnant for the 4th time, she finds out her husband doesn’t expect her to survive this pregnancy (after finding a hidden doctors letter) and so she is determined to find a midwife as soon as possible to help her. A chance meeting, whilst out riding, with Alice Grey and Fleetwood decides she trusts Alice enough to help her deliver a healthy baby. But within a society determined to stamp down on women being powerful within their social role, they come to rely upon each other more than they could ever have expected…
This is a wonderfully magical book that casts it spell over you from the very first line and keeps you entrapped within its pages throughout. The witch trails don’t play as big a part as I thought they would but they worked well in the background as a constant reminder of what women of the time were up against. I adored the character of Fleetwood and loved to watch this girl who was only 17 develop into a more confident young woman. It was hard to read what she had been through in her life already, things that no child should have to experience but this girl definitely had spirit!
If you like historical fiction with an incredibly readable plot and characters who really pop off the page, then you are going to love The Familiars. I was engrossed and thoroughly engaged throughout and preordered her next book The Foundling as soon as I had finished it. Very highly recommended by me!
Meet 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 Fabulousmagazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.