The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

3.9 2045
by Katherine Howe
     
 

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A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history -- the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie'sSee more details below

Overview

A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history -- the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key secreted within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest to find out who this woman was, and to unearth a rare colonial artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge of herbs and other, stranger things.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the trials in the 1690s, and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

About the Author
Katherine Howe is completing a Ph.D. in American and New England Studies and is a descendant of Elizabeth Proctor, who survived the Salem witch trials, and Elizabeth Howe, who did not. The idea for this novel developed while Howe was studying for her doctoral qualifying exams and walking her dog through the woods between Marblehead and Salem. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Howe's novel moves back and forth between the summer of 1991 in Salem, Mass., and the 17th-century witch trial era, as college student Connie Goodwin chances upon a mysterious book written by the elusive Deliverance Dane. The characters are thin and the plot predictable, but Katherine Kellgren does her best with the material. Her voice is pleasing, her pacing and emphasis good, her diction clear but conversational. Most of her characters are distinguishable and reasonably represented, but the exaggerated British accent she adopts for the villain makes him more comical than terrifying. A Hyperion/Voice hardcover (Reviews, May 25). (June)
Library Journal

Howe's debut novel explores the Salem witch trials from the perspective of Connie Goodwin, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard. While cleaning out her grandmother's house near Salem in the summer of 1991, Connie discovers an old key along with a fragment of paper bearing only the words Deliverance Dane. At the urging of her adviser, Connie embarks upon a frenzy of research in local archives. Evidence mounts that Deliverance was a local herbalist and wise woman who became a victim of the witch trials. Finding Deliverance's "physick book" of recipes becomes a priority for Connie, particularly when she realizes that it may hold the key to curing her new boyfriend of his mysterious ailment. Howe inserts short interludes featuring Deliverance and her descendants, adding depth to the story. Howe's own connection to Salem (two of her ancestors were accused of witchcraft) adds a welcome personal touch. This enjoyable novel is too slow-paced to be considered a thriller, but it's a solid selection that may appeal to readers who enjoyed recent novels about Salem's witches (i.e., Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader and Kathleen Kent's The Heretic's Daughter).
—Laura Bliss

Kirkus Reviews
A first novel about alchemy, magic and witchcraft, set unsurprisingly in Salem, Mass., in the late 17th century and also, perhaps surprisingly, in Marblehead, Mass., in 1991. Connie Goodwin has just passed her doctoral oral exam in colonial American history at Harvard, and she looks forward to working with her mentor, Professor Manning Chilton, on breaking new ground in her dissertation. Then Connie gets an unexpected call from her New Age-y mother Grace, who is about to lose the house in Marblehead she inherited from her own mother because she's neglected for 20 years to pay the taxes on it-can Connie get it cleaned up and on the market for her? The house is, of course, eerie as well as abandoned. As Connie begins to look through Granna's house, she picks up an old Bible that gives her both an otherworldly feeling and an electric charge. Out of the Bible falls an antique key with a tiny scroll bearing the cryptic words "Deliverance Dane." Ever the good historian, Connie begins to track down the name. Eventually she finds allusions to a "Physick Book": a manual of medicine used by knowledgeable women in the colonial era, but also a book of spells. The volume seems ever more elusive as Connie's desire grows stronger to track it down. She's also feeling some uncomfortable pressure from Professor Chilton, who wants the book as badly as Connie, ostensibly because he thinks it will be helpful in a scholarly presentation he plans to make but more overtly because he seems to have some sinister agenda of his own. Howe alternates her narrative between Connie's groping attempts to track down the truth about the past and flashbacks to the real story of Deliverance Dane. We learn that she was awitch condemned in the 17th century, desperate for good reasons to keep her book hidden from ecclesiastical authorities. Informative, though not as creepy as it purports to be.
Denver Post
"Compulsively readable. . . . The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is smart, and Howe's research translates into a vividly imagined narrative. The social forces driving Deliverance's life come alive, as do the realities of the not so distant pre-Internet and cellphone realities of Connie's world. The novel is a page-turner, but the characters, not the plot, dominate."
Portland Oregonian
"I thought I had found another Alice Hoffman as I began Katherine Howe's debut novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, perhaps a little practical magic overlaying a story of romance. Yes and no. It has definite Hoffman vibes, but with a little Da Vinci Code, Stephen King, and academic discourse thrown in to create a charming and different mix. . . . Howe is masterful."
Matthew Pearl
"A sensational debut novel . . . carries on every page Howe's unique passion, wit, intelligence, and spirit."
Boston Globe
"A terrific debut novel . . . a captivating thriller of the hidden powers of women throughout the centuries."
Christian Science Monitor
"Literary alchemy . . . powerful enough to deliver a charming summer read."
Dallas Morning News
"Howe pairs a scholarly search for a missing book with the thrill of spine-tingling witchery."
Real Simple
"If you need some magic in your life . . . lose yourself in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane."
San Francisco Chronicle
"A devilishly delightful read."
USA Today
"A witch story that will leave you spellbound . . . Once in a while, a new writer offers up a hypnotic tale of the supernatural that has the publishing world quivering with excitement. In 2005 it was Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian; in 2006 it was Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. This summer, The Physick Book is magic."
New York Daily News
"This isn't the same old hang-the-sorceror tale. It has a bedeviling twist."
From the Publisher
"Compulsively readable. . . . The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is smart, and Howe's research translates into a vividly imagined narrative. The social forces driving Deliverance's life come alive, as do the realities of the not so distant pre-Internet and cellphone realities of Connie's world. The novel is a page-turner, but the characters, not the plot, dominate."—Denver Post"

I thought I had found another Alice Hoffman as I began Katherine Howe's debut novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, perhaps a little practical magic overlaying a story of romance. Yes and no. It has definite Hoffman vibes, but with a little Da Vinci Code, Stephen King, and academic discourse thrown in to create a charming and different mix. . . . Howe is masterful."—Portland Oregonian"

A sensational debut novel . . . carries on every page Howe's unique passion, wit, intelligence, and spirit."—Matthew Pearl, bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow"

A terrific debut novel . . . a captivating thriller of the hidden powers of women throughout the centuries."—Boston Globe"

Literary alchemy . . . powerful enough to deliver a charming summer read."—Christian Science Monitor"

Howe pairs a scholarly search for a missing book with the thrill of spine-tingling witchery."—Dallas Morning News"

If you need some magic in your life . . . lose yourself in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane."—Real Simple"

A devilishly delightful read."—San Francisco Chronicle"

A witch story that will leave you spellbound . . . Once in a while, a new writer offers up a hypnotic tale of the supernatural that has the publishing world quivering with excitement. In 2005 it was Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian; in 2006 it was Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. This summer, The Physick Book is magic."—USA Today"

This isn't the same old hang-the-sorceror tale. It has a bedeviling twist."—New York Daily News

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401341442
Publisher:
Hyperion
Publication date:
04/06/2010
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
713,375
Product dimensions:
8.08(w) x 5.24(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

A fresh present-day story infused with an original take on popular history. Forget broomsticks and pointy hats; here are witches that could well be walking among us today. This debut novel flows with poetic charm and eloquence that achieves high literary merit while concocting a gripping supernatural puzzler. Katherine Howe’s talent is spellbinding. --Matthew Pearl, author of The Poe Shadow and The Dante Club

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