The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane : Lost Book of Salem

  • by Katherine Howe
  • Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
  • Series: Lost Book of Salem
  • 12 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Connie is looking forward to starting work on her graduate thesis over the summer, when her mother asks her to sell an abandoned house once owned by her grandmother in Salem, Mass. Relunctantly, Connie moves to the small town and inhabits the crumbling, ancient house, trying to restore it to a semblance of order.Curious things start to happen when Connie finds the name "Deliverance Dane" on a yellowed scrap of paper inside an old Bible, and begins to have visions of a long ago woman condemned for practicing "physick," or herbal healing, on her neighbors in 1690s Salem.Interspersed with modern-day sections are chapters on the actual witch trials, revealing the fascinating story of Deliverance Dane and how she got caught up in the tragic events. Connie meets an intriguing young steeplejack named Sam, who's also interested in the history of the area. But just as Connie starts to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding Deliverance's identity, Sam has a horrifying accident, and Connie has to figure out a way to save him that involves an ancient and mystical cure. And to do that, she needs to locate the actual "physick book" once owned by Deliverance Dane herself.Immediately compelling, with powerful historic insight and detail, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is that rare find - a literary first novel with a very commercial premise and pacing.

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Audible Editor Reviews

A darkly quirky tale with enough twists and turns to make a tornado seem like a gentle rainfall, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane will keep you on the edge of your seat. The suspense is due partly, of course, to debut novelist Katherine Howe's frequent cliffhangers (who knew a story with frequent library scenes could be so compelling!), but it's also due to narrator Katherine Kellgren's expert inflections and pacing. A master of accents and tone, Kellgren's skills are put to good use in this tale that flashes back and forth between the academic world of Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1991 and the Puritanical one of Salem, Massachusetts 300 years earlier. You believe her equally as young Ph.D. candidate Connie Goodwin, embittered sextagenarian academic Manning Chilton, and the cold judges and hysterical accusers of the Salem Witch Trials.
Authors and historians (Howe is both) learned long ago that any account of the Salem Witch Trials offers a mesmerizing narrative. But Howe takes the conceit one step further. As Connie, read by Kellgren in a perfectly-cast sing-songy voice, begins considering her dissertation in American Colonial studies in earnest, she must move to her grandmother's thoroughly unmodern house for the summer. While there, a mysterious key and a piece of paper with the name Deliverance Dane drops out of a family Bible. In flashbacks to the 1690s, we learn of the real Deliverance Dane's life as a town healer and, ultimately, her conviction of practicing witchcraft. Meanwhile, back in the 20th century, we follow Connie's exhaustive search for Deliverance's elusive journal — of recipes, of witchcraft, she doesn't know — first for academic reasons then to save the life of her love interest. Along the way, as Kellgren's narration gets faster, louder, raspier, and stronger, we, like Connie, discover that perhaps there really were some magical women in Salem then, and now. —Kelly Marages

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What the Critics Say

"In all, a keen and magical historical mystery laced with romance and sly digs at society's persistent underestimation of women." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Odd

It took a little bit of time for me to discover why I didn't particularly enjoy this book. At first I wasn't sure if it was due to the story or to the narration. Eventually I realized that it was the story itself. Actually this one of those books which uses the device of telling two parallel stories. There is a main story and then the backstory which adds clues and color to the main one. In this case, the backstory was far more interesting.
Author Katherine Howe's main character Connie Goodwin is a rather colorless Phd candidate of history at Harvard. She is by turns pretentious, specious, and amazingly childish. We meet Connie as she is being grilled in an oral exam. We also meet her unpleasantly condescending and chauvanistic advisor Professor Chilton.
The backstory is about Deliverance Dane. Deliverance comes to Connie's attention through the discovery of a mysterious key in a family Bible. Connie's life is somehow entwined with Deliverance Dane who is possibly an undocumented Salem witch and thus becomes the basis for Connie's dissertation.
Katherin Kellgren's narration is done well except for the male voices - but this is a common issue I often have with female narrators. I don't know if her rendering of Professor Chilton's New England accent is correct or not, though to my untrained ear it sounds plausible.
It was Deliverance Dane's story which kept me going otherwise I found I didn't much care about Connie.
In a strange way, I found myself relieved when the story was over, sort of like having a tooth pulled - better when its over.
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- pakkmom "Lvstoread"

Love it!

This book draws you in and holds your interest until the very end. I enjoyed the shifts between the current storyline and the historical events of the Salem Witch trials of the late 1600's and how they eventually became tied together. The narrator did an excellent job and was easy to listen to. I would highly recommend this book!
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- Darinda

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-09-2009
  • Publisher: Hyperion AudioBooks