Book Review # 70 - The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane


Katherine Howe

Released June 9, 2009

Front Flap: "Connie Goodwin should be spending her summer doing research for her PhD dissertation in American History. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she's compelled to help. One day, while exploring the dusty bookshelves in the study, Connie discovers an ancient key, and within the key is a brittle slip of paper with two words written on it: Deliverance Dane. Along with a handsome steeplejack names Sam, Connie begins to research Deliverance Dane. But even as the pieces fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of long ago, and she fears that she is more tied to Salem's dark past that she could have ever imagined."

"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" by Katherine Howe is a fascinating mix of the the past and present, taking you back to the 1600's and the times of the witch trials and the present day in which Connie, in the midst of trying to write her dissertation, must also unravel the mystery of Deliverance Dane. She moves into her grandmother's old house with no electricity, air conditioning or telephone. The yard is overrun with wild herbs and plants including several poisonous plants including belladonna and mandrake. The kitchen is full of bottles and jars of all kinds of herbs. Mixed in amidst the recipes cards are cards with spells written upon them.

As her research progresses, Connie is determined to find a physick book that has been passed and sold from person to person and is considered a book of extraordinary power. Her advisor is acting oddly and at first thinks her search for this Deliverance Dane is standing in the way of writing her dissertation, then he has an about face and encourages her to uncover as much information as possible and find the book.

Mix in the history of the Salem witch trials, plus the twists and turns as Connie discovers more about her family history, plus mix in a bit of a romance with Sam the steeplejack, and you have the makings of a very interesting and engaging story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and given the fact that the author is related to Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe who were both accused of witchcraft back during the 1600 witch trials, it is educational as well. Highly recommended.

My thanks to Shelf Awareness for sending me the book.

Pages: 384
Publisher: Hyperion
Released: June 9, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction

Other thoughts:

Margot of Joyfully Retired:
"I’ve had the most amazing experience in reading this book. I read it as part of the First Look Book Club with Barnes and Noble. With this bookclub we read the book over a four week period. It is suggested that members stay with the schedule and read just so much each week. My problem was that I didn’t want to stop reading and then I got to a point where I wanted to go in slow motion. I didn’t want the book to end. I’m going to confess right now that this is one of my favorite books of the year. This isn’t going to be a negative review. So be prepared."

Kim of I Smell Books:
"I thoroughly enjoyed the story - there was a perfect combination of mystery, suspense, history, intrigue, magic and even a little romance."

"Howe’s strength is in creating character and when Connie discovers her previously unknown talents of healing, I believed it. Connie’s strained relationship with her new-age mother Grace had me smiling and nodding. And as the novel progressed, I found myself eager to learn the secrets and uncover the mystery surrounding Connie’s family."

Devourer of Books:
"This was an incredibly enjoyable story, although it wasn’t as much historical fiction as I thought it would be, most of the action took place in the present with the flashbacks distributed among three generations of women. Historical fiction or not, though, this was a book that made me really want to just stay home from work and read. I then proceeded to take the book on my errands with me and whip it out every time I had at least a 2 minute waiting period."


  1. Sounds like a book I would like to read. My daughter and I read The Shape of Mercy shortly after our trip to Salem, MA and I'm sure we would like this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. this does sound good, great review :)
    I always found the Salem witch trials such an interesting topic, and sad as well.

  3. This one is on my list to read this summer. Can't wait and I loved your review as usual. I really like how you highlight other reviewer's thoughts!!!

  4. I like the way you quote from other book reviews, it's cool to get other perspectives to add to a review. I almost got this book at Borders yesterday, but settled on a comic book instead (mostly because this was hardcover and I can hardly ever justify hardcover). Glad you enjoyed it!



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