Book No: 54
Title: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author: Katherine Howe
No. of Pages: N/A
Connie Goodwin is a PhD candidate at Harvard in 1991, seeking to move along in her field of American Colonial studies. When Connie’s mother, Grace, calls from New Mexico and tells Connie she needs her to clean out her grandmother’s house in Marblehead Connie is taken aback because she never knew of this home. While cleaning things out Connie comes across an old fashioned key; a scrap of paper with the name Deliverance Dane written upon it is attached. Intrigued Connie sets out to learn Deliverance’s story; in so doing she learns some truths about herself, her family and her mentor at the University.
The premise for this book is intriguing in that explores the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It actually poses the question “What if the claims of witchcraft were true”? The book is set in 1991, but Deliverance’s story is told in several flashback chapters. As often happens with these types of books I often find the ‘older’ story more interesting than the modern one. I really got caught up in Deliverance and Mercy’s story, it was quite fascinating.
It is very clear that a lot of research went into the book and the depiction of early colonial life and the trials themselves were very detailed. I was curious as to the placement of the book in 1991 instead of today, but I read that the point was it was before many of the universities had transferred their catalogs online so that allowed for some old fashioned detective work, digging through the stacks.
I have a few quibbles;, at times for a smart woman Connie could seem a little slow on the uptake, but I’ve known book smart people who were not at all street smart, so that was somewhat believable. Connie could also seem a little boring but the romance with Sam, the steeplechaser, helped make her far more human so that was a good touch. The Boston accents, especially Chilton’s, Connie’s adviser, were a little annoying after a while and some of the storyline involving Chilton seemed a little over the top. The ending felt very rushed and a bit confusing. I did however really like the epilogue where Ms. Howe went into a lot of the background for the story.
Overall a good book that could have been better, but I would recommend it if you like books on Salem and the witch trials.