The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Audiobook by Hyperion Audio.
(My reading–erm, listening–copy came from a local library)
Katherine Howe’s novel tells the story of a doctoral student, Connie, who studies colonial life and in particular, the Salem witch trials. She inherits her grandmother’s house and finds a strange key that has a scrap of paper inside. This leads her to a mysterious figure name Deliverance Dane, and the search for evidence of her life, and her “physick book”.
With the help (more on that in a moment) from her thesis advisor Manning Chilton, Connie treks through dusty archives, and old churches looking for any information about Deliverance Dane. At the church, she finds a record of Deliverance Dane, that gives her an important clue, in the records of the witch trials. However, a strange symbol shows up on Connie’s door that one the local witches tells her is a protective mark. But who put it there, and why?
The further she delves into her grandmother’s cupboards, and the longer she works to find the “physick book” she slowly comes to realize she has powers of her own—and possibly a connection to the women of the Dane family.
Unfortunately her advisor has quite an interest in the book, and what he’ll do to get it, is anyone’s guess, including harm Connie’s new paramour Sam, perhaps?
Interspersed with Connie’s present day search for the physick book are bits and pieces of Deliverance’s life from the death of a young girl in the 1690s, whose grieving father eventually drags Deliverance in front of the courts and accuses her of witchcraft. And if you know anything about the witch trials, you know what that means.
Was Deliverance really a witch? What was her physick book? And what does Manning Chilton want with Connie’s research? You’ll have to read this one to find out.
I’d heard a lot about this book in the past year and not all of it was good. I will say, it seems to have some flaws, (and from a friend of mine, who lived in New England once, I heard an earful) but still… my troubles with it might have stemmed from the performance involved in the audiobook version I’d checked out, whose actress tended to play the characters (read: pronounce the New England accents), and tended to obscure some bits of the narrative. However, I really, really enjoyed it—particularly the sections of the lives of Deliverance Dane and her immediate family.
Of course it fits nicely into the Gothic Reading Challenge, I think, so double score there.
Yes, I got my copy of the audio book from the local library, so if you want to “check it out” go visit yours. It’s also available online via amazon.com in hardcover, paperback audio and Kindle and at barnesandnoble.com for various formats including for the Nook. Do check it out. You might enjoy it.