The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe – Howe’s first novel received quite a bit of attention in the summer of 2009, showing up on multiple “Must Read” lists. And for very good reason. This is a fast-paced, well-researched and engaging look at women’s history, the Salem witch trials, and a good, old-fashioned mystery.
Connie Goodwin, a scholar in the final stages of her degree program, heads to her grandmother’s spooky old house in Massachusetts to spend the summer getting it ready for sale. While there, she discovers a mysterious, ancient looking key in an old book that starts her on a quest to learn everything she can about Deliverance Dane, who lived during the Salem trials. Connie’s ultimate goal is to find Dane’s “physick book,” or book of knowledge, a powerful and rare volume that would solidly establish her reputation as a women’s history scholar.
There are all the elements of an entertaining story here – a wacky mother, a hidden family history, a devious school advisor, a handsome hero and a plucky heroine. There is a little bit of Barbara Michaels here, a little Esther Forbes, and a lot of fun. his could easily become a movie. Well done and highly recommended.