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The Familiars is Stacey Halls' first novel and is about a woman she first heard of when she visited a stately home near where she grew up.  From one of the windows she could see Pendle Hill which is where witches were hung in the 17th Century.  So, she has written about real people and real events taking place in real places in the era in which she sets the book.  The story, however, is pure fiction.

 

The Mistress of the hall is only 17 years old, been married before, and has already lost two babies and is pregnant with the third.  She thinks that she may die with this pregnancy after reading a hidden letter and engages a mid-wife (common practice at the time) to help her.  However, the mid-wife is accused of witchcraft, along with 9 other women, and is due to be hanged so it's a race against time for the mistress, in the last stages of pregnancy, to try and save her mid-wife and get her to help with the birth so that she can stay alive.  

 

The prose is good but not startling, the characters are very well drawn and the story is compelling.  It does centre around witchcraft, or what was considered to be witchcraft at the time, and, of course, the misogyny that also existed at the time, so not a feminist work.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed it as a bit of light reading and would recommend it.     

Edited by lunababymoonchild

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