Friday, May 8, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Title: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: Voice
Publication Date: June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Age Group: Adult

I received this advance reading copy from the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club.

Connie Goodwin should be doing research for her doctoral dissertation. However, her mother insists that she help prepare her grandmother's abandoned home for sale. Spending the summer near Salem in her grandmother's house, Connie uncovers family secrets that could forever change the way the Salem witch trials are viewed. What if witchcraft were real and actually practiced by some of the women accused of being witches?

Katherine Howe has taken a simply asked question, "What if witchcraft was truly practiced at the time of the Salem witch trials?," and created an entire novel around it. In The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane the modern world is artfully alternated with the history of Connie's family. Connie pushes herself to uncover primary source material for her dissertation while also attempting to understand what is happening to her within her grandmother's house. She is experiencing things that are out of the ordinary and doesn't know where to turn for understanding. Although Connie does not understand some of the things that she is uncovering, Howe has given her strength to continue searching for answers, especially when the situation seems so far out of her control.

I found The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane to be an engaging novel. I was interested to see how the present would eventually tie in with Connie's discoveries of the past. The chapters and interludes were clearly labeled which establishes a definite timeline for all of the action. The relationships between the characters were believable and realistic. Howe uses variations on spelling appropriate to both the time period and the accent of the person who is speaking. While at times this made reading some of the conversations difficult, it did serve a specific purpose in the book.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. It is a strong novel, touching on the Salem witch trials in a new light. 

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