The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe begins in 1681 when a mysterious woman is brought to the bedside of a young girl stricken with a sudden illness. The girl’s father regards the woman with a mixture of distrust and hope, and the scene ends before the reader finds out the outcome. The novel switches at this point to 1991 by introducing Connie Goodwin, History PhD candidate at Harvard, just as she is completing her exhausting oral exams. Connie is soon derailed from her further studies by a call from her New Age mother, now living across the country. She asks Connie to temporarily relocate for the summer to her late Grandmother’s estate in nearby Marblehead to prepare it for sale. As she attempts to clean up a house that seems frozen in time, Connie stumbles across a clue to a potential primary source that may help serendipitously help her with her PhD. thesis. Connie searches for a missing book written by Deliverance Dane, accused of witchcraft during the Salem Trials. The story proceeds along dual timelines as Connie follows her historian instincts, learning about how the accused women in the Trials and their families were subsequently affected by the tragic events over several generations. A budding romance and a potential connection to Connie’s own background bolsters the plot, and some fantastical elements begin to emerge as the mystery unwinds. Some of the main plot is fairly predictable, and a few of the characters are one-dimensional, but the historical details and the portrayal of the “witches’” experiences are fascinating. This book might appeal to those drawn to romantic historical novels as well as to those who are intrigued by the possibility of authentic magic. I enjoyed this book and appreciated Howe’s authentic portrayal as a result of her own background in historical research.