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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Hardcover, 371 pages
June 9, 2009
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Borrowed from my boyfriend’s mom – which I got signed so when I return it, it will be in better condition than I received it.

"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."
Connie is a graduate student working on finding a unique primary source for her dissertation. As large of a feat that is, she is at the same time trying to clean out her late grandmother’s house to prepare it to sell. When she finds a name hidden in a key in a Bible at the house, the wheels start to turn in the search for a physick book - her primary source. While staying down at her grandmother’s house, Connie meets Sam, a young man who is doing some restoration work in town. He helps her search for clues to finding this book and the search ultimately leads down a dangerous path and to some unique revelations about herself for Connie.

I absolutely couldn’t put this book down! The main subject of the book is about the Salem Witch Trials and the story bounces back and forth between the present of 1991 and the past of the 17th century. It was really interesting to see how these two periods intersected with each other. Howe weaved the two stories together seamlessly. Every time you thought maybe you had something figured out, you would get another glimpse of the past and it would make you rethink your prior idea. It definitely kept me glued to the book from beginning to end.

I could relate to Connie in many ways. I recently graduated from college and remember well all the time I spent researching for my thesis – although mine didn’t lead to great adventures, but was a little less harrowing! I also could connect with the idea of having to clean out the house of a deceased relative and all of the very interesting things you learn about them after they are gone.
I learned so much about the Salem Witch Trials and how witches were viewed at the time. I had never heard of a cunning woman before – and that is a huge part of the book. Living so close by I will just have to take a trip up to that area again and be able to look at it in a completely different way.

I would recommend this book 100 times over to anyone interested in the witch hysteria that took over during this early part of US history.
Read an excerpt from the book to get an idea of how good it is!

Here is the book trailer for a visual treat:
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
Also by Katherine Howe:
house of velvet and glass
The House of Velvet and Glass
Penguin Book of Witches
The Penguin Book of Witches
The Appearance
The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen
Find Katherine Howe: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I second that recommendation!!! Loved that book!!
    Good review.

  2. This book just sounds so interesting! And thanks for the trailer. I've always had an interest in the Salem Witch Trials.

  3. I'm glad to hear you liked this book so much. I have it on my shelf but haven't managed to get to it yet.

  4. I'm so glad you liked this book! I want to get this one so bad. I will eventually. The Salem Witch Trials amze me because human behavior is so puzzling sometimes. People today can revert right back to that behavior as well.
    Great review Heather :)

    Congrats on 95 followers. YEA!

  5. I do like reading about the witch trials. I hadn't had this book on my TBR list yet, but I have now!

  6. Sounds great, I think I never read a book before about Salem Witch Trials, so this could be my first. :)

  7. I really enjoyed this one as well, it was a good quick read. I had heard a rumor the author was considering a sequel, though I don't really know where it would go as far as in her particular historical storyline.


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