Book Review: “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” by Katherine Howe.

Publisher: Voice / Hyperion
Pages: 362
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Historical, Magic
Price: $15.99
Format: Time-split Late 1600’s/Early 1990’s, 2 Parts, 23 Chapters

Find It: Amazon  /  Goodreads  /  Author Website

First Line: “Peter Petford slipped a long wooden spoon into the simmering iron pot of lentils hanging over the fire and tried to push the worry from his stomach.”

Description from Book:
Salem, Massachusetts, 1681. Fear and suspicion lead a small town to unspeakable acts.
Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1991. A young woman is about to discover that she is tied to Salem in ways she never imagined.

Topics Covered: family relationships, love, betrayal, history, alchemy, magic, academic

My Review: “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” is the story of two main women: Connie (1991) and Deliverance (Late 1600’s). Connie is a graduate level student looking for a research topic for her thesis. An inherited home brings Connie to Marblehead, where she begins to clean up her deceased grandmother’s home.

Before long, Connie stumbles across an old Bible and key, with a small name written inside: Deliverance Dane. Connie begins researching Deliverance and her ties to the Salem Witch Trials. Through Connie’s research, the reader meets her eccentric advisor, Chilton Manning. Connie’s research also brings her to a love interest, Sam, who quickly comes under a sickly spell of sorts. Connie works to complete her research, unearth hidden secrets, juggle her oddly obsessive advisor, and save Sam all at one.

I loved this book’s story. The main character, Connie, grows on the reader through time. You find yourself rooting for her academic work, worrying about her love life, and being protective of her from her advisor. The complementary characters (boyfriend, Sam; mother, Grace; advisor, Chilton) are delicately designed to support and challenge Connie’s character in a number of ways. The story will lead readers to be in agony over the past and in desperation for the future.

With this said, I did not enjoy the design of the book. The author, Katherine Howe, is very verbal and long-winded in her narrative portions of the book. She can take an entire paragraph to describe the way the character moves their clothing in anxiety. This writing style suits some readers, but I felt myself getting lost in the words and losing focus on the story at hand. Also, the length of the book was stretched too far by these wordy narratives. I found myself thinking the book could have been reduced by at least 100 pages if things were written more succinctly.

Overall, I did love this book. While I can ultimately blame my graduate program for the length of time it took me to complete reading this book, I also feel the lengthy narratives took away from the story’s appeal as well. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you have an interest in magic, history, or academic challenges.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Grace sniffed with impatience, her customary signal when she thought that Connie was willfully overlooking some point that to her was clear and unambiguous.

“Really, Constance. Sometimes it’s like you simply refuse to see what is right in front of you.”

6 responses to “Book Review: “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” by Katherine Howe.

  1. There appear to be words missing from the Salem description line. It makes no sense.
    Nice post. Nice review. I will look it up at the library.

  2. I read this one a few years ago and had some problems with it but I’m too lazy to look up my review to remember why. 😉 I loved the story and I love reading about Salem and that particular time period. I’m glad you ended up loving it!

    • It was such a great story, it really was. Living near Boston and Salem, I have always been so fascinated by the witch trials. Katherine Howe did a great job of bringing life to the trials and luring the reading in for more!

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