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The Familiars

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  29,157 ratings  ·  3,381 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Mira Books (first published February 7th 2019)
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Kathy Allard Thanks for asking this, I always want to know this too, esp with witchcraft-themed books. "Trigger warning."…moreThanks for asking this, I always want to know this too, esp with witchcraft-themed books. "Trigger warning."(less)
Linda I think that the author leaves this question open! At least for the protagonist - she has no way of being sure.

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  29,157 ratings  ·  3,381 reviews

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Four surprising witchy gothic also frustrating stars!

I cannot really believe in this is a debut novel because the story is so well crafted, detailed and smartly written. Well if it’s just first work of this writer, I voluntarily like to read her future works.

So this is two women’s amazing fight and friendship story against all ignorance, superstition, judgmental and biased minds! Fleetwood is afraid of losing her baby after three miscarriages at young age, she is only 17! She reads physician le
The Familiars by Stacey Halls is a 2019 Mira publication.

Very impressive debut novel!!

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is once more with child, hoping this time she will be able to give her husband, Richard, the heir he is so desirous of. But, when she stumbles across a letter, written to her husband from a physician, warning him that if Fleetwood should once more find herself in childbed, she would not survive.

To keep herself and unborn child from certain death, Fleetwood hires the midwife of her choos
Amalia Gkavea
‘’Justice means fairness. Luck of prejudice.’’

I’ve always loved Pendle Hill and the stories of the women who were accused of witchcraft during one of the darkest moments in the history of Europe. The fascinating legends found a perfect home in Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate, a novel full of darkness, raw beauty and folklore. Stacey Hall’s The Familiars is not as vicious as Winterson’s masterpiece but it is no less poignant, atmospheric and an absolutely beautiful novel, fully doing j
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The novel is based on true events, Pendle Hill Witch Trials, and most of the characters did exist, although it was the Author's imagination that directed their actions. The story revolves around a noblewoman, Fleetwood Shutterworth who is expected to provide her husband with an heir. She miscarages several times, and one day, when pregnant again, she meets a local woman, Alice Grey, who has a knowledge of the herbs and skills which may help Fleetwood during her pregnancy. The story seems simple, ...more
Richard (on hiatus)
The events described in the Familiars by Stacey Halls take place in the year 1612. Fleetwood is 17 years old and lives a lonely existence with her husband (of 4 years!) in a gloomy, isolated mansion in northern England. She’s pregnant but has previously had problems with miscarriages. She’s anxious to give birth successfully as Richard, her husband is desperate for an heir.
The novel shines a light on the glaring misogyny of the times, the exalted status of the midwife and the magic that fills t
There are times when I get absolutely giddy over a book that I’ve just finished, so much so that I start babbling to my neighbors, call up family members, talk about it to strangers in stores despite their strange looks as though I’ve lost my mind. That is exactly what I have found myself doing with Stacey Halls new book, The Familiars.

Are you familiar with familiars? Yes, I know. I’m part Scottish so these things are embedded into my DNA but for many, I now realize, they are not. A familiar is
What a wonderful Enchanting and captivating novel. An unputdownable ripped from real life tale that kept me up late at night.

Having read Stacy Hall’s The Foundling by Stacey Halls The Foundling I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Familiars and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Familiars is an extremely well written fictionalized account of the Pendle witch trials in 17th-century Lancashire, England.

Stacy Halls is a journalist and grew up near Pendle Hill. She was always fascinated by the Witch trials from a young
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I requested this book because I was in a witchy mood and the concept of feminism and girl power set against the backdrop of the witch trials during the rule of King James appealed to me. In case you didn't know, King James was all about that witch-hunting life. He wrote a book called the Demonology, and Shakespeare actually wrote Macbeth with witches to appeal to his audience (i.e. King James). The witch trials in the United States were
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Trading horses, time of DNF: 20%

From the blurb about a young gentlewoman in England during the 17th century witch scares, this should have been a strong contender for me. I like the narrative of mass hysteria, scapegoating, and women burning for fear. Alas, not so much.

I was not a fan of the first person point of view. It was intimate, but it trapped me inside a boring person. Uneducated, meek, and unguided in life makes Fleetwood Shuttleworth rather tedious, like being stuck in an airplane seat
Whispering Stories
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

The Year 1612, Pendle, Lancashire. Seventeen-Year-Old Fleetwood Shuttleworth has been married for four years and in that time she has been pregnant three times too, losing each child before their birth dates. Fleetwood is once again pregnant and hoping to make it to full term with her child so she can give her husband an heir to carry on the Shuttleworth name. Unfortunately, she comes across a letter from the local physician which was written a
Dash fan
5☆ Spellbinding, Superbly Written, It Pulled Me In, A Book that Will Stay with Me for a very long time!

There is only one word to really sum up THE FAMILIARS..... and that is..... Spellbinding!

Fleetwood has tried so very hard to have a child but nature has been cruel and she has never carried a baby to full term.
Well that is until now.
Fleetwood is pregnant again and is determined that this time round she will do everything she can to protect her baby.

She discovers a letter sent to her husband Ric
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly charged provocative that centres around the daily challenges faced by women in the 17th century, this gripping historical fiction felt so real as Halls explores what life was like for these real life characters during the backdrop of the Pendle Witch Trials.

The fact that this novel was originally published soon after Doctor Who explored this time period last series seems like a happy coincidence, but this was the main reason why I wanted to read this debut novel.

The story focuses on 17
Umut Rados
It started well and exciting, but didn't follow through with a solid story and plot. So, it's not for me.
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
I so enjoy when an author can take piece of history, the unknown about a real person in history, and weave a story around those events. In the book The Familiars, Stacey Halls has done just that.

In seventeenth century England, things and happenings not understood were often attributed to the realm of witches. It was a time with an eerie fascination with the people thought to be witches and this thinking led to many executions of those tried and convicted. Even King James of that time had a certa
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If this is going to be the most spellbinding debut of 2019, I fear for the next year.

Fleetwood was too weak a character, I felt. She wasn't interesting enough to keep the story going. I do realize that those were different times, and that women were supposed to be meek and obey their husbands. But even in her thoughts she was a pushover. And for someone who keeps riding all over the place to be this meek didn't sit right with me to be honest.

The most interesting element of this was the witch hun
What a fascinating time period for this intriguing historical fiction tale. Rife with political and theological goings on, 1612 was a hotbed of science and superstition. Work on the translation of The King James Bible began in 1604 and was completed by 1611. Not to mention a treatise, ‘Daemonologie,’ published in 1597, on the study of demonology and uses of witchcraft and magic, authored by King James himself. His stature gave added authority to attempts to weed out witches and sorcerers and he ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-loved
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Set in Lancashire, 1612 at the time of the Pendle Witch Trials.
Fleetwood is seventeen and mistress of Gawthorpe Hall. She has been unable to carry a child to full term so when she meets Alice Grey, a young midwife, she begs her to help her have a healthy baby. Alice promises to help and this is the start of an unlikely friendship.
The fervour of witch hunting was sweeping across this corner of England and when Alice is accused, Fleetwood makes desperate attempts to save her.
In an era when women
Nov 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, it’s very readable and I liked the characters (isn’t Fleetwood a fab girls name!!) but not enough of the story was actually on the witch trails for my liking. Which would have been fine but don’t advertise it as a book ‘based on the Pendle witch trials’ and then not really include the trails in the story much?! Wasted opportunity if you ask me. But I still enjoyed it and it was well written with a good ending. So there that!
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
"The Familiars" written by Stacey Halls is a story based on a true historical timeline and real life people, namely Fleetwood Shuttleworth born in 1595, who was a woman of gentry and mistress at Gawthorpe Hall. It is a work of fiction based on the premise of the Pendle witch trial in Lancaster 1612 and sadly highlights the plight of women disproportionately targeted as part of witch hunts during the time period set.
I'm generally not drawn to the 1600's as a story setting but I do have to admit
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a historical novel, set in 1612, the year of the Pendle Witch trials and the trials are the backdrop to the novel. It is also a debut novel and Halls was brought up in the area. She weaves the novel around historical figures and centres it on nearby Gawthorpe Hall. The main protagonist is Fleetwood Shuttleworth, seventeen years old and mistress of Gawthorpe Hall. She is pregnant and desperate to keep the child as she has recently had two miscarriages. The other main actors are her husban ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
4.5 stars
The Familiars is a historical re-imagining of the famous events surrounding the Pendle Witch Trials, which took place in 1612, under the reign of King James I. Delicately embroidered within this historical recreation, is the story of a friendship between two women from contrasting backgrounds, in an age where women were simply seen as child rearing commodities. With touches of magic, a dash of mystery and an enigmatic lead, The Familiars will lure y
I was quite excited to read The Familiars because the more I heard about it, the more it sounded like my kind of book. And it was a good read in the end, which made me so happy!

What I loved most about this book was the atmosphere. The author definitely managed to create the mysterious, nature-filled and dark feel to the setting which worked so perfectly alongside the witch-y, haunting storyline. I felt like I slowly being immersed in the time period and the situation. The house Fleetwood, the ma
Solid historical fiction for readers of Jane Harris and especially Martine Bailey. The language – especially the dialogue, even when trying to be relatable and/or coy – didn’t always strike me as right for the time period (e.g. “Hot and bothered, I went downstairs” and “They burn witches, don’t they?”). In any case, it’s a more accessible take on the Pendle witches history than Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate, with the added interest of a look at a young woman’s real life – four pregnanci ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Arc provided in exchange for a review.

I loved this. Please spread the word about this book I don’t want it going under the radar!!

The history background, the sweeping narrative, the character progression and unearthing of secrets - the whole thing was a magical journey I was swept away in.

Also, the characters are real, admittedly their stories are embellished but they overall arc is true.

We meet Fleetwood Shuttleworth as a newly married 17 year old pregnant for the fourth time.
We explore her ma
Deborah Harkness
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Set amidst the Lancashire witch trials of the early 17th century, this novel brings the complexities of that dark time in history to life through the story of a young woman, Fleetwood Shuttleworth, and her midwife, Alice Gray. The plot twists and turns, keeping you engaged and wondering what will happen next, but what I love most about this book is the way that the challenges that Fleetwood and Alice face are grounded in the historical details of the time, while also speaking to contemporary iss ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Lancashire and indeed most of the North west of the country in 1612 it wasn't a great time to be a woman. Poor women and gentry alike, wise women, healers, midwives were being accused of being witches because they knew the properties of various herbs and plants and healed the sick and dying, delivered babies and so on.
This book uses the backdrop of those awful times to tell a fictional account of the lives of some of the actual people who lived and died during them

Fleetwood Shuttleworth (real
Rachel Hall
Eminently readable historical fiction marred by a dubious heroine and lack of atmosphere.

Stacey Halls debut historical novel is a fictionalised account of the Pendle witch trials in 17th-century Lancashire and with a cast of characters drawn from real-life events and a plucky young heroine in seventeen-year-old Fleetwood Shuttleworth challenging the perceptions of the era, it should have had all the ingredients for a gripping drama. 1612 and the young mistress of palatial Gawthorpe Hall that ove
Anne ✨ Finds Joy
(3.5) The backdrop for this debut historical fiction novel is 1612 Pendle, Lancashire, and the "Pendle Hill Witch Trials" , where twelve women were accused of being witches, put on trial, and ten found guilty. The author includes some of the real historical figures in the story.

In the story, a young bride, Fleetwood Shuttleworth, is pregnant, and seeks out a midwife, Alice Grey, to assist her in trying to keep her baby to term after suffering multiple miscarriages previously. The story focuses o
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. TW: miscarriages, mention of molestation of a child
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Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works ...more

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