- Author: Stacey Halls
- Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
- Series or Standalone: Standalone
- Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Paranormal
- Source or Bought: Bought
- Goodreads Rating: 4.03
“Death is the way unto life”
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn¹t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.
When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.
When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?
As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood¹s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.
This is the best book I’ve read so far this year! I’ve never read a book like this, I found it so wonderfully original and interesting. It was well paced for its style (slower than a thriller, quicker than a Dickens novel). For me what made this story so wonderful is the people and the friendships. I felt so connected to Fleetwood and Alice and really cared about their story, it was truly amazing to witness the courage of vastly different women in such a dangerous time.
I loved all the twists and turns in the plot, especially the major one at the end *no spoilers* which I somehow didn’t see coming. The story is beautifully woven together and for me there was no plot holes or boring moments, I was enraptured the whole way through. What I also enjoyed was how we never had it confirmed whether any of the accused were witches, there are lots of little threads that imply it but I think its left up to us the reader to decide.
For me what is most chilling about this tale is the truth in it, real women were tried and executed in Pendle based on the testimony of a little girl. Coincidentally, I attended Lancaster University and was even part of Pendle College which has a witch as its emblem. One of my haunts in the local town was a pub called the Pendle Witch, on one of the walls is the tale of Jennet Devize, the little girl who testified against her whole family and condemned them as witches.
I went into this novel thinking it would be a book about witches. However, for me, this is truly a book about friendship. I honestly couldn’t recommend this book to you enough and I’m so glad that its now in my library and my heart. Happy Reading.
My Rating: 5/5