The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

6987086Rating: 3 Stars
Published: May 2009
Genre:  Historical Fiction // Paranormal (Witches)
Favorite Quote:

“She was always puzzled that people say that darkness falls. To her it seemed instead to rise, massing under trees and shrubs, pouring out from under furniture, only reaching the sky when the spaces near the ground were full.”

Connie is a Harvard PhD student studying colonial history.  After taking her board exam, her mom asks her to spend the summer cleaning/organizing her grandmother’s house in Marblehead, MA. When she comes across a name in an old bible, Connie thinks she’s on to something for her research project.  Her hunt for Deliverance Dane leads her to uncover secrets that will change her future.

The cover of this book is gorgeous.  I love that it looks like a book you’ll want to read during Fall.  And it’s about the Salem Witch Trials, and magic, so clearly, it’s the perfect time to read this book.

The book is set in 1991 (Connie’s present) and has intermittent chapters from the time of Deliverance and her descendants.  I don’t like that the “historical” chapters sometimes had a time jump.  Some are not in time order but rather the events that happen in the past are somewhat linked to the research Connie is doing in the present. This means there’s some effort involved in trying to keep straight the line of daughters starting with Deliverance –> Mercy –>Prudence –>Patience –> and so on. It’s not the names that are hard to keep track of, it’s their historical time period and their relationship with the Salem Witch Trials.  I know it’s not meant to be all that revealing since Howe wanted the readers to know things when Connie did.  But those chapters just felt unnecessary.  Yes, they gave insight into that time period that Connie couldn’t but I hated reading them.  I liked Connie as a main character but didn’t like being distracted from her.

Basically, the chapters written in 1692 were interesting but I feel like they could have been greatly condensed.  I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did to Connie.  Though, don’t get me wrong, I think it was pretty obvious (Spoiler) to everyone that she was a witch.  I mean, she knew all the plants at her grandmother’s house by sight.  Her grandmother kept those weird plants and jars filled with who-knows what.  It was at least pretty obvious that Sophie was a witch.  The logical next step would be that Connie had powers she didn’t know about. I feel like that bit of the story line should have been sped up a bit.  Her revelation was too drawn out.

Just because you don’t believe in it, doesn’t mean that it’s not true.

I hated Manning Chilton, Connie’s academic adviser, from the beginning.  (Spoiler) It didn’t surprise me in the least that he’s a nefarious character.  He was too arrogant and pushy.  I hated scenes with him.  It was exceedingly obvious that he was up to something and I’m kinda shocked that Connie couldn’t see that.  Especially since he was acting different than he normally would have.

I really liked Sam.  But I would have liked to have seen a little more chemistry.  I also want to know Sam’s reaction to Connie’s revelation.  I would have also wanted a little more explanation as to why the men always die or leave.  It seems like it was a fact/ plot point that was just sort of thrown in there.

Connie’s best friend, Liz, is hardly even worth mentioning because she’s hardly in the story.  You don’t really find out much about her and that’s disappointing.  The story would have been far more interesting if Liz was staying in the house with Connie over the summer.  They could have figured things out together.

‘Tis forever women leaping to condemn each other, she reflected. She wondered why that was.  Women posed dangers to one another that they somehow did not pose to men.”

I feel like Connie isn’t always as smart as she should be.   She bright and learned enough to studying at Harvard and advanced to candidacy. She’s a historian for colonialism & has a wealth of knowledge about the Salem Witch Trials, and yes, she struggles with things she comes across in her research. Things that seem like they would be easy to understand. Like when we had to read her train of through of what a “witch bottel” was. Come on.  Even Manning didn’t understand what an “receipt book” was at first. If they’re used to studying colonial history when things were spelled differently, which they know, then wouldn’t they have come across that phrase before? Or at least had an educated guess as to what it was right away?  I hate when authors think readers are stupid and spell things out for us, especially at the expense at a character’s intelligence.

What I think was weird was that Grace, her mom, never told Connie about her heritage.  Mercy always knew Deliverance’s true nature, as did Prudence about Mercy, and so on.  I understand that Connie was always very logical and academic, however, and that she needed to come to it on her own but still, that felt weird.

“Of course mothers and daughters with strong personalities might see the world from very different points of view.”

I was given this as a Christmas present from one of my cousins. We always gift each other books we want/hope the other will read.  I was intrigued by this one and I was excited when I recognized the author’s name.  Though, I haven’t read anything else by Katherine Howe, I have only heard of her.  But I am interested in reading The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen because ghost story, yay! Over all, I enjoyed it.  I like witches and magic and while it was light on the paranormal, I still liked reading about it.  Reading about the Salem Witch Trials always makes me sad for the innocent loss of life.  I can’t imagine living in a time when women were so feared to be different that they were hanged because of the lies of other girls. In reality, not much has changed over the years, there are just different forms than public hangings.  But I digress,  this book kept me relatively intrigued despite some of its annoyances.  I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless you really enjoy reading about that time period or liked Howe’s other books.

Have you read anything written by Katherine Howe, YA or Adult? I’ve read mixed reviews about all her novels and I enjoyed this book well enough that I’d be willing to give another one a shot.  Which one do you guys think I should pick up?


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