Review: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

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.

I found this a strange book to read, I definitly enjoyed it but found myself alomost reluctant to pick it up and carry on. Having said that when I did read it, I read a lot in one sitting.

The book focused on some hard themes, Fleetwood’s previous miscarriages were hard to read about and fairly graphically described in places. Not a book I’d recommend if you’ve suffered a recent loss yourself.

Alongside that there were (non graphic) mentions of prior child abuse as well.

I found the book focused a lot less on the witch trials than I had expected from the blurb. They were an important part of the narrative but as Fleetwood was fairly far removed from them so were we as the reader.

The relationship between Fleetwood and Alice was key for me, and interesting to watch grow. It was clear they both desperately needed a friend but neither knew how to properly reach out.

Overall a good book with some hard to read themes, which made the whole darker in feel than I was expecting.