Saturday, June 20, 2009

Deliverance Dane

Now that I have a day job, my rate of finishing books has stalled a bit (as has my blog post cadence). The days of reading at my leisure between episodes of "I Love Lucy" and "Oprah" have been replaced by moments of hastily plowing through passages during lunch breaks and before bed. Welcome to the real world, me.

Enough with the pity party. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane intrigued me and I looked forward to our daily rendezvous.

Plot: 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 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 artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge. 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 she 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 witch trials in the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue and revelation.

Review: I was hooked from the very beginning. The Salem witch trials have always fascinated me so I started the book wanting to completely lose myself in the story.

The pace slowed toward the middle and since I'm not one who obsesses upon academia, some of the tension between Connie and Professor Chilton seemed dry. Also, Connie’s love interest, Sam, didn't come alive for me. The chemistry between them was like flat Diet Coke.

However, the story exploded toward the end when all of the clues came together and Connie discovered her history. As the pace picked up with the 1690's timeline, the 1990's story also quickened. The Deliverance Dane plotline (1690's) amazed me and made me not able to put the book down.

Side Note: Katherine Howe, the author, is related to Elizabeth Proctor, who survived the Salem witch trials, and also Elizabeth Howe, who did not.

Grade: B-

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