The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author: Katherine Howe
Release Date: May 19th, 2010 (originally 2009)
Pages: 408 (Paperback)
Genre: Historical Fantasy | Mystery | Witches
Read: from July 28 to August 5, 2011
Source & Shelf: Borrowed
ISBN: 9781401341336 (English) | 9789896570781 (Portuguese)
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.
*This review might contain spoilers!*
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane was a great book. The beginning was slow but as the main character, Connie, began understanding what was going on around her, it became more exciting.
This book has two different timelines: the one set in 1991 where Connie spends her Summer Holidays in Marblehead in her grandmother’s old house and where she meets Sam and her true identity; and other set between 1692 and a couple of years ahead (sorry, can’t remember them properly) about Deliverance Dane and the already known Salem Witch Trials. Told like this is could be confusing but I guarantee you, it’s not.
When Connie arrives at Marblehead, the story is a little bit slow: it’s just her routine in a dusty house analysing her surroundings. Only when she finds a key inside a bible does it really begins to be engaged. However, some parts in the book are slightly boring with Connie being too blind to see what us, as readers, already know since the moment she stepped into the house – at least, my theory was right since she found the key.
The 17th century moments makes us understand the true meaning of the trials that killed loads of people in America. Howe‘s description of the time was well written, making us almost see it in front of us as if it was a movie. It also made me, as a reader, understand the differences between the past and the “present“ (since the book is set in 1991) and complement the two of them.
Connie is a Harvard student who sometimes seems a little bit too annoying. There were moments in the book I just wanted to read more of the past because Connie was too naive. Only after she met Sam, did her character began to develop ever so slowly. Plus the fact that she was divided between believing in magic and not.
Overall, the book was good and entertained, a good and solid story that can be timeless and which makes us more aware of the history of America (since I’m European). It has a twist in the end, though for me it wasn’t a twist because I already knew it, and some things were very well hidden, being the clues rather difficult to decipher.
Katherine Howe wrote a good book. I’ll be waiting for more of her works in hope to find another exciting book such as this one..