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Book Review of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
cathyskye avatar reviewed on + 2284 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8

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!