The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: Hyperion
Number of pages: 362
What book is most important to you? What book would you search for without sleeping? Let me guess…for some, it might be a Bible, for others a rare, out of print, or first edition copy of some beloved text.  It could be a history book documenting some world event, a science book revealing some mysterious cause and effect, or a particularly lovely illustrated fiction book. But, for Connie, her search lies in the physick book written by Deliverance Dane.
In Salem, in the late 1600’s, women were often accused, tried and killed for being witches. But, what if they really were? What if they had the ability to heal, and were so misunderstood that they were murdered out of fear? And, what do legacies contribute to our present lives?
These are the questions Katherine Howe explores in her terrific novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. When graduate student Connie, at her mother’s request, goes to prepare her grandmother’s house to sell, she discovers a Bible. Inside the Bible is a key, and inside the key is a scrap of paper which reads Deliverance Dane. So begins the mysterious trail of discovering exactly who Deliverance was, what she was capable of, and how her life effects Connie’s. Not to mention those around Connie.
While I suspected many of the things that happened in the book before they were fully revealed, I was surprised at the ending which is always an unexpected pleasure. Other aspects of the book which thrilled me include: the fantastic recreation of the dialect not only of the East coast, but of those who lived in Colonial America; the relationship between Connie and her mother, Grace, an ex-hippie of sorts with a gentle, reassuring spirit; Connie’s love relationship with steeplejack, Sam.
It was a delightful book with a truly refreshing premise and conclusion.
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9 thoughts on “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane”

  1. I'm really pleased you enjoyed this as I am planning to read it next week. It is called the Lost Book of Salem here in the UK though, so some people might get a bit confused! I wish they wouldn't change the names in different countries!

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  2. I remember when Harry Potter's original version came to my attention: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. That was the first time I was really aware that whole titles could change from country to country. (Be on the look out for a philosopher's stone in this book, as well! I'll be sure to come by to read your thoughts on it.)

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  3. I was surprised when the publisher, Hyperion, sent it to me to review because I see it all over Barnes and Noble. Because my husband is from the East Coast, and because I like to read about the academia world, I was intrigued with this book. I especially like the way the author closed the book; very clever ending! Maybe some day you'll pick it up, Les. During lunch? 🙂

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  4. I'm so glad you liked this book. It is one of my favorite reads so far this year. I love the way Katherine Howe writes. It's hard to believe this is her first novel.

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  5. Margot, I agree! Her vocabulary, for one thing, was outstanding. I rarely come across words I've not seen before. I also liked the way she worked out the ending.

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