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The Familiars

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,133 ratings  ·  734 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
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by MIRA (first published February 7th 2019)
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Courtney Andresen Hello. Have you already notified Goodreads that you haven't received it? You should also try contacting the publisher directly. A lot of authors don't…moreHello. Have you already notified Goodreads that you haven't received it? You should also try contacting the publisher directly. A lot of authors don't go through these questions.

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3.90  · 
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 ·  4,133 ratings  ·  734 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
‘’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 jus
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
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nilufer Ozmekik
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Miriam Smith
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readers-first
"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
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
Umut Reviews
It started well and exciting, but didn't follow through with a solid story and plot. So, it's not for me.
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
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
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
Olivia-Savannah  Roach
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
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
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
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 marriage, her past and her community all
As soon as I met Fleetwood Shuttleworth, I fell for her. She's based on a true person - this isn't a name you'd easily think up - but this is her fictional story. Fleetwood was mistress at the grand house of Gawthorpe in 1612, the time and (nearby) place of the infamous Pendle witch trials. The so-called witches do feature here but the glory of The Familiars is its portrayal of this 17-year-old girl, already on her second marriage and already pregnant for the fourth time, the previous pregnancie ...more
Anne ✨
(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
Karen Kay
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this from in exchange for a review.

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?

Based on real history. In an era where women were to be seen and not heard, Fleetwood Shuttleworth knows the women are falsely accused of witchery and goes to great lengths, even to endanger herself and unborn baby, to prevent the deaths of innocent women.


Visit the locations in the novel

I do love a historical read when there’s a potent mix of fact and fiction. The Familiars immersed me right at the heart of the Pendle Witch trials of 1612 and explored the people, the feelings, the social mores and the ‘justice system’ of the time. That cover caught my attention from the start, but the novel didn’t disappoint.

Many of the characters in the novel are real-life figures,. The main one is the very real Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a 17-year-old noblewoman w
Theresa Smith
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-bingo-2019
‘“Fleetwood have you knowledge of familiar spirits?” I shook my head. “Then I will direct you to the book of Leviticus. In short, it’s the Devil in disguise. An instrument, if you will, to enlarge his kingdom…they can appear as anything: an animal, a child. It appears to her when she needs it to do her bidding. A familiar is the surest sign of a witch.”’

The legend of the Pendle witches is the most notorious witch trial of the 17th century. Just over three centuries saw witch trials held in Engla
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2019; Mira/HarperCollins Canada
(Review Not on Blog)

I liked this historical fiction but I think I expected much more from the novel. Witchcraft, witches and witch trials have always fascinated me. While I liked the story, I just didn't connect the characters.

***I received an eARC from EDELWEISS***
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
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I read just over a fifth of it. The story was holding my interest to a certain degree, but not enough to overlook the superficial characterization and ridiculously modern atmosphere and dialogue. Nope.
Robin Bonne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I concur with all the great reviews I've seen for this title. It held me firmly in its grip from start to finish and never let go.
It is a quite terrifying indictment of how powerless women were, and were expected to be, in an age when men held all the power and quite literally had the power of life and death over women with the capacity to dominate women and decide their fate, just because they were male and could get away with anything.

I found the story all the more shocking as the heroine, wit
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. One or two slight quibbles, one being there wasn't enough about the Pendle Witches but to be fair I am pretty obsessed by them and James' persecution of 'witches' in general.
An intresting and involving read for most of the book...another slight niggle...maybe the last quarter wasn't as strong as what went before but overall, 4 solid ⭐.
Serene  Morticia
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
"'Do you really think they know the Devil?' ...
'If the Devil is poverty, and hunger, and grief, then yes. I think they know the Devil.'"

This was a fascinating take on the infamous Pendle witch trials. Taking place in August 1612, it was one of the biggest trials of it's kind at the time. I didn't know much of them but Stacey Halls has unearthed a mystery that has certainly peaked my interest. (view spoiler)
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book was based on the Pendleton Witch Trials and created a fictional explanation for why one accused witch, Alice Grey, was acquitted. I found a few things in the book a little hard to swallow, though. For one, the drastic change in the main character’s personality and her outspokenness as a woman in the 1600s. For another, almost everyone was literate. Otherwise, the plot seemed plausible but wasn’t terribly exciting. Good narration on the audiobook.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this book, it is beautifully written historical fiction. It was not a book I had heard about but I was drawn to this book initially by the gorgeous front cover. I decided to buy it purely for the pretty design and it did look like something that I would be interested in. I discovered that it was about the Pendle Witch trials in 1612. I knew nothing about this beforehand and it made me want to search for more information on this as I was so intrigued. I loved the friendship betwe ...more
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Play Book Tag: The Familiars by Stacey Halls - 3.5 stars 1 13 Mar 25, 2019 06:25AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Audiobook for The Familiars by Stacey Halls 2 20 Mar 08, 2019 08:20PM  

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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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“- 'I bet you are not afraid of anything', I said.
'Of course I am,' she said, and she pulled at a loose thread in her apron. 'I am afraid of lies.'-”
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