Wednesday, the 24th of November, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week’s pick is a seventeenth-century historical novel set amidst an atmosphere of superstition and witch trials, The Familiars (2019) by Stacey Halls. Stacey Halls, who grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, studied journalism and worked as media editor at The Bookseller and has written for the Independent and Fabulous Magazine. She is the author of three novels, The Familiars, The Founding, and most recently, Mrs England.

The Familiars introduces us to Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a young noblewoman, who has miscarried several times and now finds herself pregnant again. She meets a midwife, Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy child. But then Alice is accused of witchcraft. Now Fleetwood must look into the matter, and risk everything to prove Alice’s innocence. Time is running out for them both. The book is set against the background of the 1612 witch trials, and Fleetwood, Alice and others are based on real historical characters.

This book, which I’m sure, everyone has by now read, is one I’ve been meaning to read since I first came across it–I think some months after it was published. I finally got a copy earlier this year (paperback, Zaffre books, 420 pp), but since it’s arrived, its been sitting right there on my TBR and I haven’t gotten down to picking it up. The storyline and the fact that it’s based on historical characters interests me very much. In fact, another book I’ve recently read, though a mystery, The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch was also centred around a witchcraft accusation against a midwife, but in this case in seventeenth-century Bavaria (review coming up soon). I’m hoping to get to The Familiars and Halls’ other books soon.

Have you read this one or any of Stacey Halls’ other books? How did you find it/them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cover image, book description and author info from Goodreads here and here

Lisa’s pick this week is The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw in which three sisters sentenced to death for witchery return every year and take revenge


13 thoughts on “Shelf Control #161: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

  1. I read this a while ago and it was OK. I know that it has had brilliant reviews and I’m not sure why it didn’t grab me more. I sort of lost interest half way through. Hopefully you will enjoy it more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve just finished reading this book few days ago and it conquered my heart! I’m aiming to read The Foundling as well 🙂
    Have you read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton? It is also sent in the 1600s, but in Amsterdam. Super nice book, I recommend it!


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