The Familiars - Stacy Halls

Fleetwood Shuttleworth has not been lucky when it came to providing a child for her husband Richard. Her previous pregnancies have ended tragically and as she is now pregnant again she is determined that she will not lose this one, the only thing is that she has now uncovered a hidden letter stating she would not survive another pregnancy, a letter hidden by her husband. Fleetwood starts to panic and stumbles across Alice Grey, a midwife who promises to deliver a healthy baby but there is something Alice seems to be hiding.

I was interested to see how this story was told as it seemed a pretty boring concept, woman has failed pregnancies, has one last chance and enlists the help of a potentially magic midwife. I struggled to see how it would get anymore exciting than that, it did play out how I anticipated but there was so much in between that makes you fall in love with Fleetwood, her feisty attitude, determination and flair just made me so eager to know her fate. She fought for Alice's rights, for her family and for herself and the author's writing beautifully brought this across and for a debut novel this was so hard to put down (or pause, since I was listening to the audiobook).

An honourable character mention is Puck. I'm a sucker for a dog character (providing they don't die) and he was such a good boy! I have to tip my hat to Stacey Halls because every character in this novel was described not through their physical details but the way they moved, the presence they held and actions they do which for me is the perfect way to bring across a character. It's subtle but before I knew it I was able to pick out each character's strengths and weaknesses and decide who I liked and disliked (Roger).

The ending was super emotional. *Spoiler* Fleetwood manages to save Alice from execution and Puck saves Fleetwood so she is able to make it home and give birth to her child. I'm a little disappointed that after all the betrayal from Richard she still names the baby after him and they get on as if he never found a mistress and made her pregnant as well! But the ending came full circle and Fleetwood is finally happy, the story was an entire journey for Fleetwood and the reader that was enticing and gripping until the very end. My only concern was that Fleetwood's decision making changed with however the story needed to progress particularly when it came to her feelings with Alice and Richard. When we needed to start involving Alice more in the story Fleetwood suddenly isn't worried about the strange woman, the same applies for Richard, when she needs his help she is suddenly not concerned about his secrecy of the letter.

Overall this was a wonderful read, it was heartwarming and exciting at all the right moments. Coupled with the authors dedication to the research that went into the background of this story. I'm excited to get a hold onto Stacey Halls's next novel The Foundlings and I hope it'll be just as good.

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