Cover image for The familiars : a novel / Stacey Halls.
Title:
The familiars : a novel / Stacey Halls.
ISBN:
9780778369189
Publication Information:
Toronto, Ontario : MIRA Books, [2019]
Physical Description:
344 pages : map ; 24 cm
Abstract:
Pendle Hill Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth is with child again. As the mistress of Gawthorpe Hall, she is anxious to provide her husband with an heir. But none of her previous pregnancies have come to term. Then she discovers a hidden letter from her physician that warns her husband that she will not survive another pregnancy. Distraught over the frightening revelation, Fleetwood wanders the woods of Pendle Hill, where she meets a young local woman named Alice Gray. A midwife, Alice promises Fleetwood she can help her deliver a healthy baby. But soon Alice is drawn into the frenzied accusations of witchcraft sweeping the countryside. Even the woodland creatures, the "familiars," are suspected of practicing the dark arts. Can Fleetwood trust that Alice is really who she says she is? As the two women's lives become intertwined, Fleetwood must risk everything to prove Alice's innocence in order to save her own unborn child. The hunt for witches reaches fever pitch. Time is running out. The trials are about to begin. Both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other. Set against the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612, this rich and compelling novel draws its characters from historical figures as it explores the lives and rights of seventeenth-century women, ultimately raising the question: Is witch-hunting really just women-hunting?
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Summary

Summary

THE FAMILIARS A NOVEL

"A beautiful tale of women, witchcraft and the fight against power."

--Jessie Burton, New York Times bestselling author of The Miniaturis

"The Familiars is a must-read novel."

--Heather Morris, bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz



IN 1612 IN LANCASTER, ENGLAND, THE HUNT FOR WITCHES IS RAMPANT...

BUT IN A TIME OF SUSPICION AND ACCUSATION, TO BE A WOMAN IS THE GREATEST RISK OF ALL

1612 Pendle Hill

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth is with child again. As the mistress of Gawthorpe Hall, she is anxious to provide her husband with an heir. But none of her previous pregnancies have come to term. Then she discovers a hidden letter from her physician that warns her husband that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Distraught over the frightening revelation, Fleetwood wanders the woods of Pendle Hill, where she meets a young local woman named Alice Gray. A midwife, Alice promises Fleetwood she can help her deliver a healthy baby. But soon Alice is drawn into the frenzied accusations of witchcraft sweeping the countryside. Even the woodland creatures, the "familiars," are suspected of practicing the dark arts. Can Fleetwood trust that Alice is really who she says she is?

As the two women's lives become intertwined, Fleetwood must risk everything to prove Alice's innocence in order to save her own unborn child. The hunt for witches reaches fever pitch. Time is running out. The trials are about to begin. Both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Set against the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612, this rich and compelling novel draws its characters from historical figures as it explores the lives and rights of seventeenth-century women, ultimately raising the question: Is witch-hunting really just women-hunting?


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Halls's enthralling debut opens in 1612, when lonely Fleetwood Shuttleworth, mistress of Gawthorpe Hall in England, is only 17 and pregnant for the fourth time, and, because of a letter her husband received from a physician, she has good reason to believe that she and her baby will not survive. Her failure to give her husband Richard an heir weighs on her, and with him frequently away, she relies on her loyal French mastiff Puck for companionship. Then she meets quiet, strange midwife Alice Gray, who ensures Fleetwood she can help her deliver a healthy, living child. Soon, Alice is arrested for murder and swept up in a vicious witch hunt. Devastated by Alice's imprisonment and reeling from the discovery that Richard is keeping a pregnant mistress in her supposedly abandoned childhood home, Fleetwood sets out to save the life of the only woman who can save hers-and the only true friend she's ever had. Fleetwood, who narrates, paints a portrait of her life and friendship with Alice that is often imbued with a sense of the otherworldly, depicting a pivotal bond they forged in a time when women had little agency over their lives, their bodies, or their fates. Set against the furor leading up to the Pendle witch trials, Halls's winning novel is a quietly powerful and richly evocative tale. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

DEBUT Halls's first novel is set against the backdrop of the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials and features 17-year-old noblewoman Fleetwood Shuttleworth, who is happily married and mistress of one of the greatest mansions in Lancashire. The only thing she lacks is an heir. After three miscarriages, Fleetwood is pregnant for the fourth time when she discovers a letter from a doctor to her husband, warning that she will not survive another pregnancy. Taking her health into her own hands, Fleetwood engages local midwife Alice Gray to help her deliver a healthy baby. But when Alice is implicated in the witch hunt sweeping the county and arrested, Fleetwood must find a way to save her friend, and by extension her own life, even if it means going against her husband and the town magistrates. VERDICT A relatable first-person narrator helps make the history of this thoroughly researched novel feel more approachable. A solid addition to all fiction collections, with teen appeal. [See Prepub Alert, 8/20/18.]-Lindsay Morton, P.L. of Science, San Francisco © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.