Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.
Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.
Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.
I was hoping that The Familiars would be a little more fantasy with its historical. I don’t traditionally like historical fiction, so it was hard for me to connect to this book especially st the start. However, I really felt for the characters, and they swept me along. And the teeeeeeny hints at magic got me through haha.
Fleetwood’s story is so tough – every time you learn something more about her, it hurts. I loved her friendship with Alice though, that was the lifeblood of the book and well worth the read. Her determination was fantastic. I wanted to drown Richard though 😂😂
It also shows that even being higher class as a lady at the time, life could be challenging. Though I like that it contrasts that with Alice’s life, which is obviously that much harder.
It’s beautifully written, too, there’s something very evocative about it. All in, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would when I realised it was just historical, even though it’s still not something I love. 3.5 stars and if you like historical fiction, I would definitely recommend it.
Buy The Familiars from Amazon UK (affiliate link)