The Familiars – Stacey Halls – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A beautiful tale of witchcraft, friendship, strength and history.

The Familiars – Stacey Halls

In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all

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.

I adored this book, I was hooked and found myself thinking about the book between chapters. Fleetwood starts off as a young naive woman who, throughout the course of the books turns into a strong, independent woman in the times when women were meant to be seen and not heard.

All Fleetwood wants is to be able to bear a child for her husband and to be a worthy wife, she is desperate for her child to grow and to survive, it is only when she discovers a note from a doctor she believes to be about herself, stating that she will not survive another pregnancy that Fleetwood’s desperation hits a peak. She must survive this pregnancy or at least, her child must.

Fleetwood seeks guidance from a midwife called Alice, Alice is from a questionable family but it’s clear her herbal aids are working and Fleetwood is healthier than ever. However, during this time in history with witch hunts, women performing healing with herbs or poppets were seen to be witches and more often than not, caught and sentenced to death.

Alice comes under suspicion for being a witch and is taken away from Fleetwood. With her one chance at delivering a health child taken away from her, Fleetwood must do everything she can to save both Alice and her child.

Fleetwood transforms into a fierce protective mother and friend and defies the odds for a woman of her time. She has her own suspicions of Alice as she often sees a beautiful fox with the same colour eyes watching her but she looks past that to the woman that helped her when she had no reason to do so.

I really enjoyed this book, Stacey’s writing is beautiful and you feel like you are transported back in time to Gawthorpe hall. Gorgeous!

The tie in with the actual witch trials which happened in Lancashire brings a lovely authentic, historical element to this book which draws you in. You can’t help but feel for Fleetwood and Alice and what fate has in store when the odds are so against them.

A beautiful tale of witchcraft, friendship, strength and history. I highly recommend it.

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