Book Review: “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” by Katherine Howe
From Publishers Weekly 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) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In short, I loved the book, being a lover of mystery fiction, paranormal and off the beaten path writers and their books. Katherine Howe certainly delivers in this mini tome. The characters, setting and plot are believable and even likeable. You empathize with Connie and the women from the past, Deliverance, Prudence and so forth. Each task Connie sets her in a path that is dangerous and unlikely foes are using her for their own good (or bad, as the case may be). Katherine takes great care in crafting her settings, from Cambridge to the small town where she finds her family’s sturdy but down-trodden home. Mystical happenings abound and Connie’s academic brain must sort through the ages to find out where the truth lies, as well as clear an unbeknownst ancestor’s name.
This is one book I would definately recommend for a rainy or snowy weekend.