The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe is an amazing debut novel. Do you enjoy a little, history, a little mystery, stories about the Salem witch hysteria? If so, this just might be a good book for you to try.
In 1991, Connie Goodwin is a Harvard Grad Student in American Colonial Studies, trying to decide on a topic for her dissertation, when a frantic telephone call from her "hippie-mom" changes her academic routine. Grace begs her daughter to spend her summer in Marblehead, MA cleaning out her grandmother's old, run down home, so that she can sell the property. So off Connie goes, along with her dog Arlo to this old abandoned house, hidden from view. There is no electricity, no running water, and no telephone. While Connie is cleaning, she finds an old key, along with a name on a tiny piece of parchment scroll, inside of an old family bible: Deliverance Dane. Connie is on a mission to find out more.
A good amount of this story revolves around Connie's academic research in 1991 when records were not computerized. Through her research she learns that Physick was a word used in the 17th century for herbal remedy, or what might be better referred to as spells used by witches. Connie also learns that Deliverance Dane, from Salem, Massachusetts, practiced this herbal healing craft. Connie's research for her dissertation, and hunt for the missing Physick (spell) book, keep the reader anxiously turning the pages, especially as Connie begins to wonder whether is could be somehow tied to the witches of Salem. The story travels back in time to the late 1600's and the year 1991.
My Thoughts: Part historical fiction, part mystery, witchcraft, a dash of humor, and a little romance thrown in as well, make this a winning combination. The significant research involved in writing this novel is evident throughout. I loved the description of life in the late 1600's. Even though I have read several books on the Salem witches, trial etc., I never tire of reading a story from yet another angle. The ending might leave you with some unanswered questions, but despite this, the book was certainly a worthy read. It was also interesting to learn that the author is a descendant of two women who endured the Salem witch panic of 1692. This book is Recommended.
(Review Copy received through Shelf Awareness on behalf of the Publisher: Hyperion/Voice)