Posted by: istop4books | June 17, 2011

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe

I enjoyed this book in an easy, breezy way, as a quick summer read with an interesting Salem witch hunt topic.

I didn’t love it. The cover promised a novel that “flows with poetic charm and eloquence that achieves high literary merit while concocting a gripping supernatural puzzler…spellbinding.”

Um, no. There was no poetic charm, it wasn’t particularly gripping and was definitely not spellbinding. It was a good first novel written by a young woman whose two ancestors were part of the Salem witch trials. She brings us Connie Goodman, a PhD candidate at Harvard who, while cleaning out her late grandmother’s house, stumbles on some information leading her to believe there might be an original physick (think medical) book of one of her ancestors, Deliverance Dane. It could be vital to her PhD research, it could be just an accounting book, or it could possible list recipes for magic potions. It also could have been lost or destroyed over the years. What ensues is a bit of genealogy and tracing the whereabouts of the book, some conniving bad-guy treachery, a bit of romance and some magical powers thrown in. Howe transitions between 20th century research and 17th century life. Her attention to small details in dress and habits of 17th century woman is very good

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