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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is a stunning novel, full of mystery and intrigue.

The Salem witch trials have been a source of curiosity for years and the town is commonly used as the setting for witch novels. However, unlike other Salem novels, this book asks the question that many books fail to. Rather than just associating Salem with magic, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane focuses on the women of the trials and, more specifically, the possibility that one of them actually was a witch.

The academic mindset of Connie gave the novel a voice I haven’t encountered in many other novels. Her work and research to uncover Deliverance’s secret was all logical and realistic. It was this realism and voice that made it seem plausible Deliverance had really been a witch and magic existed, since, after all, everything else in the book was strongly anchored to real life.

One of the most interesting things about this novel was the interludes to historical Connecticut. Not only did these flashbacks build suspense and add key details to the story, but they helped to make the women mentioned throughout the course of the novel seem real. Deliverance is not just a name scribbled on a piece of paper, the name of a women lost to time, she was a human being. She had a family and a life and human emotions. Her story isn’t just another example of the witch trials, but her life and the implications that the trials had on the lives of women for generations.

4 Stars!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I have just found your blog, thanks for the review. My local library has this on order and I am going to get it when it comes in. I do like reading fiction on the salem Witches...Just finished reading The Heretics Daughter.

    Priscilla x


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