Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
September 24, 2015
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.
Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.
I’ve had this book on my radar ever since I met author Katherine Howe last year at Anderson’s YA Literature Conference. I was intrigued with the connection to the Salem Witch Trials, and I knew I wanted to check it out. Here are my thoughts:
On the Plus Side:
- I did enjoy the snapshots from the Salem Witch Trials, though the book was largely set during the 1990s. It was an interesting tie from then to now.
- I liked that there was more than one element of mystery woven throughout the novel. There are parts that you will be guessing at the entire time.
- Howe includes strong female characters, which is always a plus for me. The women in this book are independent, smart, funny, and adept. I was connected to all of them in different ways for different reasons.
On the Minus Side:
- Although there was a lot I liked about this book, it took me a long time to read this one (although that may be due in part to the craziness of getting back to school). I sometimes was a little bogged down in the lengthy descriptions that Howe provided. Although she is an excellent writer, her style didn’t always click with my reading style.
If you like a book with magical elements, and love detailed descriptions, then this is definitely a book for you.
What did you think of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane? Have you read any other books by Howe?