The Familiars by Stacey Halls
I picked this book up at the library as I had seen a few of my book friends had read this novel and really enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I was presuming it would be quite dark with some witchcraft thrown into the mix. I was pleasantly surprised that although the talk of witches and their work is a key theme to this book, it wasn’t a dark, creepy novel.
The story follows Fleetwood Shuttleworth, the Mistress of the house at the mere age of 17. She is pregnant for the fourth time, and so far none of pregnancies have been successful. By chance she meets Alice Grey, a girl herself who is a midwife and possibly wise woman. Alice is accused of witchcraft, and this novel is about Fleetwood fighting for Alice, herself and her pregnancy.
I do like a historical novel (I’ve read almost all of Philippa Gregory’s work), and this novel did not let me down. I was drawn into the 1600s and really enjoyed it it! This book didn’t read quickly, but it was engaging. I was invested, I wanted to know what was going to happen to Fleetwood and to Alice. I really liked Fleetwood. She was strong and determined, she was a 1600s feminist. She was seen as lowly because she was a woman, but she would not be undermined or intimidated by the corrupt men around her.
The information at the end tells of how Fleetwood and Alice were real women, and that this novel is based loosely around the witch trials in the North. I thought this book was really well written. It was a great story, the characters were so well written, and the twists and turns were just right. This is a book I would happily recommend!
3 out of 5