I won a paperback copy of The Familiars ARC through a Goodreads contest. It took me a while to get to it. When I began it, I was drawn in very quickly. I enjoyed the book so much I purchased the Audible audiobook also. The book takes place in the early years of the 17th century in an England full of change. After decades of Elizabeth Tudor, that dynasty has come to an end and the new dynasty, the Stuarts, is led by a very different kind of King. Witch hunts are raging through England under King James I's direction. As usual, women are the target. Any woman who does not fit the societal norms or works as a healer or midwife is likely to fall under suspicion. Fleetwood Shuttleworth is pregnant and afraid she will lose this baby as she did the previous three. Her husband Richard needs an heir. When Fleetwood meets a young lady in the forest who says she can help her to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, Fleetwood brings her home with her. The book does a good job of looking at the motivations of the men who hunt the witches. The book and the audiobook are very good.
When Christ and His Saints Slept is one of the best historical fictions. It tells a story based on history but adds the author's thoughts on the characters' motivation. This takes place during what the contemporaries called The Anarchy. Henry the first's only son, ,William Adelin, died in 1120 during an attempted channel crossing, leaving only his daughter Maud as heir. To ensure the succession, Henry made all his nobles swear to accept Maud as their ruler. Then he married her, against her will, to Geoffrey of Anjou to protect the southern end of his realms. Maud was not in England when Henry died but her cousin, Stephen of Blois, was. So begins a civil war that spans about 8 years and eventually hits every corner of the Kingdom.
When Christ and His Saints Slept takes a neutral position on both claimants to the throne and their supporters. Both are shown to have weaknesses that lost them support. Penman also gives the reader/listener a wide range of other characters both historical and fictional.
The audiobook is over 36 hrs long. Anne Flosnik is a good narrator. The production values are good. Most Americans think of England as having had only one Civil War in the mid-1600s. The Anarchy was the first civil war and the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty.
I received a copy of When Christ and His Saints Slept courtesy of Tantor Media in exchange for an honest review.