Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane: A Book Review

This book, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, was a "Recommended Read" from Barnes and Noble. I checked out the reviews before I bought it and boy! were they diverse. A lot of people totally hated it, some people thought it held promise but didn't really deliver and then there were those who were completely besotted with it. The subject matter was intriguing to me, though, so I took a chance.
A synopsis of the book:
Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key secreted within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest to find out who this woman was, and to unearth a rare colonial artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge of herbs and other, stranger things. As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined. Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the trials in the 1690s, and a modern woman's story of mystery, intrigue and revelation.

So okay...a lot of the negative reviewers had a point. The author went into deep detail in some areas and yet failed to expound on certain points that I think should have been made more clear. She also exhibited a bit of "higher education snobbery" in the way she continuously harped on and on about the main character's journey towards higher learning. She imbued that "journey" with a near reverence that was a tad bit off-putting. Having said that, I must also say I did enjoy the read over all. I think the villain could have been a little more fierce (I had a hard time actually being "afraid" of him) but the story itself was fairly decent. I liked how the author took us back in time to clarify parts of the plotline. She really brought those people from 1692 to life for me. This was a first book for Katherine Howe and, given the job she did on this one, I believe I will read her next one, if and when she writes it. I give The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane three stars out of five on the Kari Hayes Scale of Readability (a scale that didn't exist until this very moment! lol).


  1. Great review! I have started reading more lately and I might give it a look see. My Aunt said that a book called "The Help" was awesome. I don't remember the author though.

    Have a great weekend Kari!

  2. I love book reviews!

    If you are into cooking, the book by Julia Child, My Years in France, is really good! Also check out The Art of Racing in the Rain.

  3. LOL! I like the "Kari Hayes Scale of Readability!" Maybe, I should create my own scale as well. I also have been reading a lot lately!

    It's so good to catch up with you again! I've gone back through all of your posts. I am wanting a vacation now! LOL!


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