Witch hunts. Family. Friends. How far will we go to save who we love?
Well, what can I say? I was looking forward to this book and it didn’t disappoint!
Set in 17th century Lancashire, against a backdrop of witchcraft and witch hunts, the young mistress of Gawthrope Hall, Fleetwood Shuttleworth, discovers a hidden letter that reveals her potential fate.
Pregnant for the fourth time, the previous times ending in miscarriage or stillbirth, Fleetwood reads that this time she may not survive.
Gutted and panic-stricken, she stumbles across the path of local girl, Alice Grey, and enlists her as her midwife.
Little does she know this will bring her directly into contact with the local witch hunt, led by family friend, Roger Nowell, the local magistrate, looking to make a name for himself with the King.
As the story unfolds, Fleetwood knows she’ll do everything she can to protect her unborn child, even if it means disobeying her husband and all of the social conventions of the time.
The characters are firmly at the heart of this book, driving the plot, taking the reader along with them. Fleetwood’s journey from a timid young girl to a woman sure of her convictions and willing to put herself in danger for her beliefs, is truly inspirational.
Alice is strong, but fragile, smart and caring, and a true friend to Fleetwood.
The writing is sumptuous, the landscape and world so vivid and real, Hall’s debut novel is fabulous.
This is historical fiction at its best, with people and characters at its core.