Thursday, July 2, 2009
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
This book has garnered a lot of buzz in the past month and so, though I normally don't care to read novels about American historical topics, I decided to try this. And I'm glad I did! I really liked this novel. It centers around Connie who is a Ph.D candidate in American studies at Harvard. She is trying to decide on a thesis topic when she is asked to clear out her deceased grandmother's home so it can be sold. While doing this she discovers the name of a possibly forgotten woman who was executed in the Salem Witch Trials. The bulk of the novel then details her search for the physick book or spell book of this woman, Deliverance Dane, her budding relationship with a fellow historian and her uncovering of a family history she never knew about. Connie's story is interspersed with chapters that tell the story of Deliverance and her daughter Mercy so the reader feels a personal connection with this interesting woman. There are supernatural elements in the novel which are very believable and even exciting. I would call this an adventure novel, but it is slower paced and more character driven and intelligent than your average adventure tome. And the historical details were fascinating and made the Colonial period come alive for me. I would suggest this to readers who like thoughtful adventures or to readers who have an interest in the Salem Witch Trials.