The Familiars – Stacey Halls

41569416.jpgBased around the real 1612 Pendle Witch Trials, this compelling novel explores the rights of 17th century women and the true fate of those accused of witchcraft. Fleetwood Shuttleworth, noblewoman of Gawthorpe Hall, is pregnant for the fourth time. She has never carried a baby to term. Desperate to deliver an heir for her husband, Richard, Fleetwood enlists the help of a local midwife named Alice Grey. But Alice is soon drawn into the accusations of witchcraft that are sweeping the area, and Fleetwood must risk everything to clear her name.

I love books about witches, especially ones based on real-life events, and The Familiars really hit the mark. I know next to nothing about the Pendle Witch Trials (although I do now want to learn more), but I do know that Fleetwood, Alice and all the other characters in this book are based on real people affected by these trials. The author has used the real names of the women accused and tried for witchcraft, and built a fictional story out of the mystery of what really happened, which is truly fascinating.

The story is wonderfully well-written. The author builds a mysterious, slightly haunting atmosphere without any inclusion of actual magic. The plot is quite simple and develops slowly, but this only adds to the atmosphere and realism.

Fleetwood was a slightly annoying character (though I adore her name), but she fitted well into the story and was bearable enough to read about. Her complete powerlessness against the men around her was frustrating but, considering that the story is based on truth, realistic and frightening. I kind of hated her husband but, for the time, his actions were to be expected.

Also, how beautiful is that cover?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Truthwitch – Susan Dennard

29588505.jpgAfter an unfortunate run-in with a dangerous Bloodwitch, young witches Safiya and Iseult are forced to flee their home and hide. When things take a turn for the worse, the girls have no choice but to accept the help of Prince Merik of Nubrevna, a Windwitch. Together, they sail to Nubrevna to escape the Bloodwitch, the emperor, and anyone who would use Safiya’s Truthwitchery for their own gain.

This story is exciting and action-packed. It’s a true YA fantasy adventure, with witches, magic and a lot of fighting. It all sounds pretty awesome, but was sort of, not.

For starters, the writing style was very repetitive. This is a weird complaint, but the author used the girls’ names too often in the narrative. It stopped the story from flowing smoothly and was just kind of irritating.

I loved the focus of the story being on a female friendship. There are romance elements within the story, but it is in no way the main feature. It was nice to read about girls sticking together instead of falling out and taking each other down. However, the characters were just alright. Safiya and Iseult both had potential to be kick-ass and awesome, but they were both a bit hot-headed and lacking. And far too reliant on each other. My favourite by far was Aeduan, just because he’s pretty cool, but on the whole I didn’t care much for the other characters.

I did enjoy Truthwitch, but it seemed to take a really long time to read (and it’s not that long a book). When I love a book, I get through it really fast. This was just not one of those. It was good, but it dragged. I didn’t love it. I will be giving Book #2 a go, because I already own a copy. If I didn’t have one already, I’m not sure if I’d bother.

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The Warlock’s Nemesis – Alena Des

36000377.jpgAlice is a healer, so when a deadly virus ravages the world, she is sent to help. Teamed with the powerful warlock, Tannon, Alice does what she can to save the human race. However, the power behind the virus has a different target in mind, and things take a serious turn for the worst for Alice, just when things seem to be looking up.

The Warlock’s Nemesis is book #2 in ‘The Kings’ series, but I read it as a standalone (having not read book #1). The events of the previous book are mentioned a few times, but it is absolutely not necessary to read book #1 first.

The most notable thing about this book is the number of plot twists. It is genuinely impossible to predict which way the story is going to go, making it surprising and exciting. Some of the events were a little farfetched and unnecessary, but this is a paranormal fantasy story after all.

Although I generally liked the characters and their relationships, I felt the relationship between Alice and Tannon was a bit forced. Alice kept going on about how much time they were spending together when – from the reader’s perspective – it had only been one or maybe two days. They were together for a maximum of a week and were suddenly utterly and completely in love. Also, once they were ‘together’, the way the spoke and behaved towards each other completely changed. It was quite jarring. I did like the way the relationship developed after that though, with the twists regarding Alice’s general temperament.

Overall, The Warlock’s Nemesis is a fun and eventful story, but it is a little flawed and the writing style lacked refinement.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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T5W: Books Featuring Witches


Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here). This week’s topic is Books Featuring Witches. This can be books about witches, where a witch is the main character, or any book that happens to feature a witch at all.

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – I really need to stop including this book in every list but I love it so much and it does feature one of the best literary witches: Agnes Nutter. It’s a fun and creative story featuring angels, demons, satanic nuns, and of course, the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch. 12067
  2. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – Pratchett was always fantastic at witches, and my favourite was Tiffany Aching, the 9-year-old witch who comes with a collection of hilarious, strange, blue men in kilts. 833420
  3. Beastly by Alex Flinn – This retelling of Beauty and the Beast features a sassy and vengeful witch (the one who places the curse on Alex Flinn’s ‘beast’), Kendra. She’s only a very minor character in this book, but I believe this has actually developed into a series called the Kendra Chronicles. 544891
  4. The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown – Okay, so this book doesn’t actually feature any witches of the magical/paranormal kind. It is actually about the sister of a man who claims to be a witchfinder and contains some real, historical of what happened to women accused of being witches in 1640’s England. It is a harrowing but truly fascinating read. 32860254
  5. The Halfway Witchy series by Terry Maggert – This witchy series follows the life of Carlie McEwan as she fights to protect her beloved town of Halfway. It features vampires, Vikings, ghosts, and a multitude of other supernatural beings and is a fun and easy romp. Oh, and there are waffles. 25827242

Halfway Hunted by Terry Maggert (Halfway Witchy #3)

30268328We’re back with Carlie and the gang, keeping Halfway safe from paranormal activity. In the third instalment of the Halfway Witchy series, a century old curse is broken as Exit wakes up from a 100-year sleep and enlists Carlie’s help to find out exactly what happened to him and to locate his wife. In an unpleasant turn of events, Carlie, Gran and Exit wind up tracking down a pair of shape-shifter hunters who are up to no good. Meanwhile, Carlie’s boyfriend, Wulfric, has gone full vampire and it’s up to Carlie to find a way to bring him back. But what if dark blood magic is her only option?

I struggled a little bit when reading the second book in this series, but Halfway Hunted is back to Maggert at his finest. Carlie is as feisty and likeable as ever, while the supporting characters, including the new addition of Exit, are eccentric and fun. This story has better pacing than the last, with less talk and more action, and an intriguing plot. It’s a light and easy read but, while it wouldn’t be necessary to read the previous books, I would definitely recommend it.

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