By Stacey Halls
In 1612 Lancaster, England, the hunt for witches has reached a fever pitch... But in a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman may be the greatest risk of all. Fleetwood Shuttleworth, the mistress of Pendle Hill's Gawthorpe Hall, is with child. Anxious to produce an heir, she is distraught to find a letter from her physician that warns her husband she will not survive this pregnancy. Devastated, Fleetwood wanders the estate grounds, where she catches a young woman poaching. Alice Gray claims she is a local midwife and promises to help Fleetwood deliver a healthy baby. But a witch-obsessed frenzy sweeps the countryside. Even woodland creatures or "familiars" are thought to be dark companions of the unholy. And Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft. Time is running out. The witch trials are about to begin. With both their lives at stake, Fleetwood must prove Alice's innocence. Only they know the truth. Set against the real Pendle witch trials, this compelling novel draws its characters from historical figures as it explores the lives of seventeenth-century women. Ultimately it raises the question: Was witch hunting really just women hunting?