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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
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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Darinda on 06-20-09
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!
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
By Rosemary on 03-11-10
I quite enjoyed listening to this book and being transported into the world that the author creates. It's not perfect, and some of the characters were not especially believable, but I highly recommend it if you're looking for something in the vein of "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation". (To be fair, the quality of the writing in "The Physick Book" is about 10 times better than "Pink Carnation", but the parts set in the past in "Pink Carnation" are about 10 times more engaging.)
8 of 8 people found this review helpful