Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

 Title: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
 Author:  Katherine Howe
 Published:  Hyperion Voice, 2009
 How I Got It: Purchased myself
 Rating: 3.5 stars


When we first meet our main character Connie she is a graduate student stress-case.  She is preparing for a super important test that she must pass in order to continue her education.  The exam covers all aspects of American colonial history.  If you miss a question or don't answer one fully then that's it, you're out of the program.  Oh, and it's not a written test either, your mentors ask you the questions and you have to come up with your answer on the spot (talk about pressure!).  Luckily, Connie  excels and passes to exam.  It's the beginning of the summer so Connie expects that she can relax a little now.  Unfortunately, Grace, her mother has other plans.  Grace needs Connie to clean and fix up her grandmother's house that has been neglected for years.  All of a sudden it needs to be sold.  Connie isn't thrilled about spending the summer this way but she can't say no to her mother.  During her first night at the house Connie finds a mysterious key.  It intrigues her and from that point on Connie is determined to figure out what it goes to.  This is the catalyst that begins the search for Deliverance Dance's physick book.

I love historical fiction books that go back and forth between the past and present.  I love seeing how the different stories and different time periods connect.  This book was no exception.  Howe takes us on a journey to Marblehead, MA in 1991 and then back in time to Salem, MA circa 1692.  Deliverance Dane was a woman found guilty of witchcraft and was executed.  Connie just happened to come across a piece of history while doing a good deed for her mother.   Like any good historian, Connie investigates and uncovers a woman forgotten by the history books and learns some things about her family’s past.

While I did enjoy this book I felt it ended too sudden.   We find a few things out and then it seems like the book just ends.  We learn what happens to Sam but don’t get to read about what happens to him (I hope that made sense, I’m having trouble wording it without listing spoilers).

*side note* Every time I saw the name ‘Chilton’ I thought of Gilmore Girls.

I’m so glad Howe included a postscript.  Deliverance Dane was a real person (while reading the book I thought she was just a fictional character).   There’s not a lot of information about her though.  She was accused of witchcraft and spent thirteen weeks in prison but luckily, her life was spared. 

The Salem witch trials are a part of history that has always interested me.  It baffles me that a group of teenage girls were able to convince an entire town that they were in the company of witches.  That their own next door neighbors could be putting curses on other people in the town.  It was a point in history when people were extremely fearful (especially with a war occurring less than 100 miles away) but still.  I wonder if those girls felt any remorse for contributing to the panic.  But they were only a part of the uprising.  People truly believed that witchcraft was real.

What are you thoughts about the Salem witch trials?  Ever visited Salem, MA? 


Daisy said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I really liked this book. I'm fascinated by the Salem witch trials, like you mentioned: it's so bizar that a couple of girls could convince the whole town to execute women because they were 'witches'! I can't remember if you've read The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent, I really enjoyed that one as well and would recommend it if you haven't read it yet :)

Jen said...

I haven't read The Heretic's Daughter yet but I do own it. I hope to read it soon!