Book Review – The Familiars by Stacey Halls

The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Zaffre Books, 2019)

I’ll put my hands up and be really honest and say I only picked up this book because the gorgeous cover caught my eye as I was wandering around a supermarket (yes, I’m one of those people – mea culpa :)). I read the blurb, it sounded good so I bought it.

I wasn’t disappointed.

The Familiars is the debut novel by author Stacey Halls.

Set in 1612, The Familiars is set against the backdrop of the very real events of the Pendle witch trials, and centres around Fleetwood Shuttleworth, the mistress of Gawthorpe Hall.

The young Fleetwood Shuttleworth is pregnant again after suffering several miscarriages. She’s anxious and desperate to provide her husband Richard with an heir. She discovers a hidden letter from a doctor with the awful prediction that she will not survive another birth.

In a desperate bid to keep herself and her baby alive she employs a local woman, Alice Gray, to be her midwife. However, as the witch hunts begin to gain traction it isn’t long before Alice is implicated in the use of witchcraft. How far will Fleetwood go to protect herself, her baby and her midwife?

The Familiars is an impressive debut novel by Stacey Halls. I felt it was a little shaky and slow in the beginning but not enough to stop me reading it. When the pace picked up there was enough intrigue and suspense to keep the story moving forward. However, I felt the conclusion of the story was a little bit underwhelming but this is probably because the story had to be set within the confines of what was acceptable for a Gentlewoman in 1612, so not necessarily the author’s fault.

Unlike the Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox (see my review here) the heroine of The Familiars manages to be pro-active despite the restrictions of the time. This was a big plus for me. Personally, I find nothing duller than a heroine that does nothing!

Whilst The Familiars isn’t perfect, and despite the shaky start, I would recommend The Familiars. I think for her debut novel, Stacey Halls did a fantastic job.

4 out of 5 stars.

Great for those who like Historical Fiction that is set against real, researchable events. Not so good for those interested in the witch hunts and assizes as the drama takes place away from the actual trials. In other words, it might not be “witchy” enough for you.

 

 

 

My Faves – Book Review – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (Bloomsbury, 1997)

Does this book need any introduction?

Is there anyone alive who hasn’t heard of the Boy Who Lived?

Harry Potter is an orphan who lives in the cupboard under the stairs at his aunt and uncle’s house. That is until mysterious letters – delivered by owls – keep turning up at the door. Uncle Vernon is not impressed and doesn’t want Harry to read them, so he takes the family to a small island in a stormy sea, knowing that the letters can’t reach them there.

Except, he doesn’t anticipate the arrival of Hagrid, a friendly giant who crashes through the door of the house and utters the immortal words, “Harry – yer a wizard.”

And indeed, Harry is a wizard. A very powerful wizard as it turns out.

I LOVE this book. In fact, I LOVE the whole flippin’ series of Harry Potter books.

J.K. Rowling is an expert at world-building and is a master of the little details that just suck you into Harry’s world right from the beginning.

I know Harry Potter has been reviewed to death but I had to review the book that basically inspired me to write. To me, this book is perfection.

Probably the only time in my life I have been truly envious of someone else’s talent. Rowling is a master of plot and a magic weaver of worlds.

And yes, I’m 43 and I don’t care that it’s a book written for young adults. I love it anyway.

And to those who have a problem with adults reading the Harry Potter books, I don’t f*~king care! 🙂

Personally, I think you’re missing out but that’s just my opinion.

Why don’t you give it a try and see what happens?

FIVE STARS.

Great for those who love intricate fantasy worlds. Not so great for those…no, wait, it’s great for everyone!