This is a page turner. I just couldn't put this book down and loved the flashbacks to Deliverance's time the most. The late 1600s were hard for women, especially Puritan women who had to be steely and reserved at all times. I came to respect Deliverance for her steadfast nature and her want to help those very people who condemned her. It is certainly hard to be strong when faced with conflict, especially that of the life threatening brand. The mother-daughter dynamic is important in the book, and each mother and daughter carries on their family legacy of spells and healing while adapting to the times. Just as mothers and daughters tend to be, each daughter is both like and unlike her mother.
Sometimes it seems as though Howe, a historian herself, uses the plot and Connie as an excuse to let us know just how much she personally knows about history. While this isn't a bad thing, quite the opposite in the opinion of this historian, it does make the dialogue sound forced at times.
There was one thing I did take issue with, but not enough to put me off of the book. I was sort of disappointed that this book turned from historical fiction / thriller to thriller / fantasy. I would have liked it better had the author not chosen to make the 'magic' aspect of what Deliverance and her kin did actual reality. When the characters began to do real magic, I gave a sigh. Part of the appeal of the book was that it spoke to me as an historian and a realist. What I wanted to see and get from the book was the story of a woman, a natural woman capable of using the earth as anyone could, being marked as evil for her skill with healing. That hope was cut short when the characters began actually speaking spells and shooting light from the tips of their fingers.
To be honest, I could see the ending coming a mile away. It was quite obvious from the get-go who the bad guy is. I was surprised that it took super-intelligent Connie so long to figure it out for herself. Then again, maybe I just have a distrustful nature. My suspicion as to the end of the book didn't ruin the plot for me, though, and I absolutely devoured the book.
Let me start with OMG! I loved this book. It was well written, the characters were well developed, the plot was amazing. I have to thank the First Look group over at Barnes and Noble for letting me be a part of this one.
The book follows Connie, a student working on her dissertation for her PhD in American History. Her mother asks her to get granna's house, in Marblehead Ma. (near Salem), ready to sell. Connie begins to discover weird things about the house from the beginning, and when she discovers the name Deliverance Dane she starts hunting for more information. The book jumps between the 1990's and the late 1600's - early 1700's. These jumps allow us to follow the stories of Deliverance, her daughter Mercy, and Granddaughter Prudence. As Connie gets closer to finding what she's looking for, the story of these women in the past gets filled in more and more. What Connie eventually finds is more than unexpected.
I love stories about Salem and the With Trials, but sometimes I think it's been so overdone that it would be hard to find a new angle to write about. Well let me tell you Katherine Howe has hit the nail on the head with this one. The story is enthralling. I became attached to Connie almost immediately.
I think this book was great. It was suspenseful at times, emotionally pulling, and fast paced. Even when I wasn't reading this one I was thinking about what was going to happen next. I truly became engrossed in this book. I'm finding it hard to write this review because I can't seem to explain what exactly it was I liked so much about it, and to just say I loved everything about it isn't very descriptive, but that's just it, I LOVED everything about this book.
This one I'm sure I will pick up and read many times in the future.
Can't post my copy because it's an ARC but I would recommend it highly :-)
It was a good book, but not a "keeper." I was tired of it by the time I was halfway thru, and I agree that the ending was totally predictable. If you like this period of history, though, the author has done a tremendous job with the details and descriptions...although going overboard at times to the point of being somewhat tedious.
Don't buy the book..wait until you can order it thru PBS.
Reviewed by Angie Fisher for TeensReadToo.com
Connie Goodwin, like many young women, has issues with her mother. So when Grace asks her daughter to interrupt her doctoral research at Harvard to go to Marblehead for the summer and ready her grandmother's house to be sold, Connie wonders why she agreed.
And that was before she walked into the ancient cottage that has no electricity.
Connie's knowledge of Colonial history, her chosen field of study, comes in handy as she learns the secrets of the past occupants of the house, one of whom was tried in the Salem witch trials. As Connie digs deeper into the past, she finds herself being catapulted into a world of witchery and magic, the very things her own mother has made her run far and fast from.
THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE has it all: believable characters, a love story, friendship, and family connections as well as curses. It is a well-written first novel that weaves the author's personal ties with the era into an incredibly convincing story.
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.
Connie Goodwin's plans for spending the summer doing research for her PhD. dissertation hit a snag when she receives a phone call from her mother in New Mexico. Grace wants Connie to clean out an old abandoned family home so that it can be sold. Little does Connie know that a clue to a totally new and original source will be found while the house is being cleaned-- an original source that leads directly to the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It is no surprise whatsoever that now Connie has clue in hand, she has very little inclination toward housecleaning. She'd much rather spend all her time in research and investigation!
I enjoyed this début novel that borrows a thing or two from the author's own family history. (Two ancestors were accused witches in Salem.) The viewpoint is refreshing. Instead of the timeworn plot that works to prove the accused innocent, Howe makes us wonder what...just what if...some of those women were really guilty?
There are various flashbacks in the book to women with ties to Deliverance Dane, and although these scenes are grim and uncomfortable to read, they serve a valuable purpose. How many books using the witch trials as setting or background have made readers give any thought to what happened to the dead women's surviving families? How on earth did they cope? Howe's flashbacks provide us with the perspective of those left behind in unfriendly villages.
Although both the identity of the bad guy and the planting of clues about Connie were a bit too obvious for me, I enjoyed this book a great deal. Connie is such a winning character, and it was a treat watching her do research and track down Deliverance's book. I do wonder why Howe decided not to let us be a part of the book's discovery with Connie. Learning about it after the fact was a bit of a letdown. First-time weaknesses aside, I hope this is merely the first of many books written by Katherine Howe. I do like the way she spins a tale!