The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Genre: women’s historical fiction. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.96. ⭐️Stars from me: 3.7.

Twitter message: "The things in The Familiars infuriate me so much (and I knew they would). It doesn't mean it's a bad book, on the contrary it means it's a good book. I just need to punch a pillow a few times."

General information

This is a story about Fleetwood, a 17-year-old wife of a noble person living in England, in the year 1692. Fleetwood is going through her new pregnancy, having miscarried several times before. She’s worried that this baby won’t survive too, and that her life is also in danger. She meets Alice who gives her some hope. Unfortunately, Alice might be one of those uncomfortable women who are not tolerated by people in power. This is a story about women who are trying to save and to be saved.

How was it?

I expected to be infuriated by the story, and I was. It could not be different with a book about women that are treated like cattle. It raised lots of questions. Was it truly that bad? How did it come to this?

Twitter message that says: "Reading The Familiars, which got me to a question: How did it happen in the course of humanity that at one stage both men and women are hunting mammoths side by side, and at another one they lock females in castles to produce heirs and accuse clever ones of witchcraft?"

Have things really changed much since then?

Good things about the book

The story

The story is very gripping, it’s hard to put the book down. There’s lots of action going on.

The ending

I liked it because it felt realistic and natural.

Things that I liked less

The editing

The passage of time feels very abrupt sometimes. The book feels raw and unpolished at places.

Those nasty bad men, those great good women

As I told in one of my reviews before, I’m tired of this concept. I understand that in a book about a witch hunt such element is inescapable, but I still believe that characters have to be more diverse in order to be plausible and interesting.

The husband issue

I find the eventual situation with the husband implausible and obscene, especially taking into account all the things we’ve read about him.

Questions that I still have

I wish I could learn more about Alice, but I’m also wondering about those historical times in general. If it was that bad could such brave, rebellious Fleetwoods really exist? Did they? Or was the mere thought of going against the current impossible for women then? Well, unless they were witches…

Would I recommend the book?

I’d definitely recommend it to those who are looking for an adventure story with strong female characters. The Familiars will be out in two weeks, on 19.02.19.

Many thanks to the publishers for the copy in exchange for my honest review.

4 thoughts on “The Familiars by Stacey Halls

  1. I get tired of those one-dimensional people/stories, too. Nice review. Sounds like a hard read, in some respects.

    1. Thank you for your comment Carmel 🙂 It’s nice to see you here.

      I’ve got a few books on my reading list that I suspect will follow the same pattern of one-dimensional characters. I’m thinking of ruthlessly filtering the list so I will have some detox after this repeated and overused concept.

      It was a hard read. It’s not that graphic or melodramatic but the main idea behind the story really has the potential to infuriate.

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