Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

I have two confessions to make about this book. The first is that I never would have picked up this book to read due to the potential supernatural content. I tend to avoid books that deal with witches, vampires, werewolves, etc. But, on our trip to Arizona we wanted to do a mini-book club and this was one of the books.

My second confession is that for the ENTIRE book, really until almost the last page, I had the title in my head as Psychick and not Physick. Past many, many parts where I should have realized there wasn't anything psychic about the title. And thus my avoidance from my first confession shouldn't have appeared. As I tell my boy regularly (he's a natural speed reader too), I need to "read the word that is written, NOT what I think it should be".

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe was quite an interesting book and I completely enjoyed it. It is told from the point of view of Connie, a grad student at Harvard. She is what I imagine, a typical academic, working on her PhD in colonial history.

Summary: A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history-the Salem witch trials.

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.

I was fascinated with the research piece (maybe I should have been a history major?? nah!) I couldn't believe there were wills and probates and all that way back in the late 17th century. Is that part really true? Anyone?

There were a couple of conclusions that Connie makes in the course of her research that seem to be quite a leap based on the information given in the book. But then there were a few times that I was thinking she should easily have figure it out and didn't. But overall, the plot was good and enjoyable.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I've been wanting to read this for a while, so I'm glad to see you liked it.