Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe is a gripping supernatural thriller that turns the history of the Salem witch trials on its head. Connie Goodwin is a graduate student at Harvard who is planning to spend the summer working on her doctoral thesis. To her dismay, her mother wants her to spend the summer cleaning out her grandmother's house near Salem, which has been abandoned for years. Once she is in the house, Connie starts to get terrible headaches and sees things that are not there. She is a skeptic of all things supernatural so she refuses to believe that anything is happening to her. On her first evening in the house, she finds an old key hidden inside a bible with a scrap of paper containing only a name: Deliverance Dane. Connie decides to track down this woman to find out who she is. This investigation leads her on an adventure to find Deliverance's mysterious book of physick, which is greedily sought after by her devious academic advisor, Manning Chilton. She eventually learns the surprising truth about herself and her family history and finds herself a handsome steeplejack along the way.

Interspersed in the story of Connie's quest are interludes back to the time of the Salem witch trials. Howe succeeds in immersing the reader into the early American time period. Readers will feel anguish at the plight of the women who were hung as witches due to children who were playing games and adults who were afraid of what they did not understand.

Lovers of supernatural thrillers will find The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane to be an exciting page turner. Those who enjoy Howe's debut novel should also check out The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent, another interesting take on the Salem witch trials.
Today we also have a book review featured on the Virginian-Pilot's Bookmark book blog.

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