On Tuesday 6th November I was invited by Bonnier Zaffre to a launch party for The Familiars by Stacey Halls.
1612 Pendle Hill, England: Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth is with child again. As the mistress of Gawthorpe Hall, she is anxious to provide her husband with an heir. But none of her previous pregnancies have come to term. Then she discovers a hidden letter from her physician that warns her husband that she will not survive another pregnancy. Distraught over the frightening revelation, Fleetwood wanders the woods of Pendle Hill, where she comes across a young local woman named Alice Gray who is gathering herbs. A midwife, Alice promises Fleetwood she can help her deliver a healthy baby. But soon Alice is drawn into the frenzied accusations of witchcraft sweeping the countryside. Even the woodland creatures, the “familiars,” are suspected of practicing the dark arts. Can Fleetwood trust that Alice is really who she says she is? As the two women’s lives become intertwined, Fleetwood must risk everything to prove Alice’s innocence in order to save her own unborn child. The hunt for witches reaches fever pitch. Time is running out. The trials are about to begin. Both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the real Pendle Witch Trials of 1612, this rich and compelling novel draws its characters from historical figures as it explores the lives and rights of seventeenth-century women, ultimately raising the question of whether witch-hunting is really just women-hunting.
To be published: 7 February 2019 by Bonnier Zaffre
Held at the fantastically named, The Dead Dolls House (a restaurant and bar) in London, ILovedReadingThis and I were led up several flights of stairs to The Ballroom, meeting a real life Fleetwood Shuttleworth on route. We were greeted by a fantastically decorated room. There was an opportunity for us to take pictures of the book, with flat lays set up for us bookstagrammers, with atmospheric props and good lighting!
We could also make our own tincture using a base of Almond Oil and various essential oils including clove, eucalyptus, frankincense and lemon oils. Drinks and canapes were served and I chatted to several other bookstagrammers and bloggers and it was lovely to meet them in real life.
Stacey Halls herself was talking to us and signing books and she was lovely to chat too. We were also treated to a scene from the book by actresses playing Fleetwood and Alice which was fantastic – such a good idea and it really brought the book to life! The book itself (which is still only available as a proof) is just beautiful – an intricate design with foiled detailing and I can’t wait to see what the finished book will look like. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m hoping to soon!
We received a copy of the book, which was signed by Stacey, stick on tattoos of Familiars and some delicious biscuits for my train journey home!
About the author:
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 Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.