Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe


Title: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author: Katherine Howe
ISBN: 9781401340902, Hyperion Books, 2009
Genre: Fiction
Rating: A

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 d├ębut 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!

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15 comments:

  1. Another great review for this book! I read an amazing non-blog review for this a few weeks ago and was feeling proud of myself for discovering a book no one will have heard of. I pre-ordered a copy (it is released in the UK in 2 weeks time) now I'm seeing amazing reviews on every blog I see! Nevermind - I'm pleased it is so good, and am looking forward to reading it.

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  2. Great review, and good that you liked it since I am really interested in reading it too

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  3. Everyone seems to be loving this book. I can't wait to read it.

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  4. I've been surprised by all the great reviews - it definitely seems like one to read!

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  5. This one sounds so good. I just put myself on the library waiting list yesterday. Thanks for another great review.

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  6. VERY interesting! Thanks for a great review.

    I have awarded you the Lemonade Award ;) Please share the love when you have time:

    http://louspages.blogspot.com/2009/06/lemonade-award.html

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  7. I'm looking forward to reading this one -- it's slated for this month. I think I'm going to really like it.

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  8. Good review. I almost ordered this one at Audible today, but I'm not fond of audio versions of books with intense scenes. I think I'd like this one in print, though.

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  9. It's certainly an interesting spin on the witches theme. I really would like to read this one. From the sound of it, I think I would like this book.

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  10. I'm glad you liked this book too. I've been thinking that maybe reading this with others in the bookclub may have colored my judgement, so I'm glad to see you gave it an A and a good recommendation. Thanks for the link-up.

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  11. I've read good and bad reviews of this one but I'm looking forward to it!

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  12. Jackie--That's happened to me, too. I really hope you'll enjoy the book!

    Blodeuedd--I didn't realize how many people were interested in reading this book!

    Kathy--I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    rhapsody--They haven't all been great. In fact, I think one of the links in my "Second Opinion" section is to a review that isn't favorable.

    SuziQ--You're welcome!

    Paul--You, too? :)

    Louise--You're welcome! And thanks for the award! I'll try to get it taken care of tomorrow.

    Beth--I'm hoping you will!

    Belle--I think you will, too.

    Margot--You're welcome!

    Luanne--If you're anything like me, bad reviews may pique my interest, but if the book sounds really good, I'm going to read it anyway!

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  13. Sounds very interesting, I'm adding this one to my wish list.

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  14. Kris--I'm glad you liked my review!

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Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!