A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history -- the Salem witch trials.
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 secreted 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 colonial artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge of herbs and other, stranger things.
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 begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.
Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the trials in the 1690s, and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.
A Halloween Stories Sale Pick
Set in Cambridge and Marblehead, Mass., Howe's propulsive if derivative novel alternates between the 1991 story of college student Connie Goodwin and a group of 17th-century outcasts. After moving into her grandmother's crumbling house to get it in shape for sale, Connie comes across a small key and piece of paper reading only "Deliverance Dane." The Salem witch trials, contemporary Wicca and women's roles in early American history figure prominently as Connie does her academic detective work. What follows is a breezy read in which Connie must uncover the mystery of a shadowy book written by the enigmatic Deliverance Dane. During Connie's investigation, she relies on a handsome steeplejack for romance and her mother and an expert on American colonial history for clues and support. While the twisty plot and Howe's habit of ending chapters with cliffhangers are straight out of the thriller playbook, the writing is solid overall, and Howe's depiction of early American life and the witch trials should appeal to readers who enjoyed The Heretic's Daughter. The witchcraft angle and frenetic pacing beg for a screen adaptation. (June)
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Showing 1-6 of the 6 most recent reviews
1 . Good book
Posted March 21, 2011 by A , USGood story with interesting magical theme. :)
2 . Great Read
Posted October 13, 2010 by Cathy , OscodaVery good.
3 . Couldn't put it down!
Posted April 22, 2010 by Vickie , MichiganThis book was recommended by a friend. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to seeing more from this author
4 . Worth reading
Posted April 01, 2010 by Meda Lubliner , West Hills, CAAn interesting combination of historical novel and mystery story. Story is about Colonial America and the Salem Witch trials and a contemporary graduate student searching for a primary source buried in the libraries of Boston. Then there is a nice love story, family history and herbal and folk cures. Well worth the read.
5 . Didn't want to put it down!
Posted January 14, 2010 by Nikkie , CincinnatiThis was a really great book. I've recommended it to friends and they had the same reaction - didn't want it to end! The idea is fresh and very well written. Can't wait for more from this author!
6 . Worth the read
Posted December 08, 2009 by Kathy , Cottonwood HeightsThe more I think about this book the more I think about this book the more I think it's a book that needs to be read more than once to get all the details and insights. I was hoping for more from this story. I felt that there were a lot of missed connections and holes in the story. I felt that the author could have gave more story/background. I felt that the mother was supposed to be more important than she was. I also felt that the ending became rushed towared the end. Over all the story was worth reading. I would consider reading the this book again and other books by this author in the future.
June 08, 2009
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