The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe was getting a lot of buzz a few months back, so I picked myself up a copy and gave it a go. I had been hearing mixed things, some people really enjoyed it and others thought it did not quite live up to the hype. I was in the first camp; I thought it was quite good.
This novel has the type of storyline I find very alluring. The main character, Carrie Goodwin, is set to find a topic for her doctoral thesis. But while wishing she could concentrate on this overwhelming task her mother requests that she take over the sale of the abandoned home of grandmother. This project at first seems a complete distraction, but turns into a historical mystery, and perhaps a dissertation topic. Within a key, within a 17th century Bible, is a slip of paper with the name “Deliverance Dane”. Connie begins on a path to research the woman, and learn her history, leading her to new revelations about the infamous Salem Witch Trials and the possibility of true witchcraft.
A handsome sidekick of course comes along the way, providing the needed flirtation and fun that the book would suffer without. The story alternates between Connie’s story and the story of several women of the Dane lineage, as the true powers of these women are slowly revealed for us.
This story is somewhere between mystery, suspense, and historical fiction. The ending will not come as a surprise, but that is a minor shortcoming. Connie can seem a little dopey at times, especially considering she is a doctoral candidate, and her love-interest is a bit two dimensional, but the plot and historical details make up for these faults and make The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane worth picking up.