The Physick's Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe - Book Review

I am not meant to read mainstream fiction. First, I trashed Firefly Lane. Then, I deplored American Wife. I couldn’t connect with Sag Harbor. And all of these titles are media darlings, slated by the all-powerful mainstream reviewers as fantastic. Now add, what I’m certain will be hailed as the next big story, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane imagines that the Salem witches might have been real, as in, real witches. First time novelist Katherine Howe, a student of New England history herself, leads protagonist Connie through her own history lesson as she works on her dissertation while clearing her grandmother’s ancient New England home. There she finds a key, both literal and figurative, to her family’s witchy past. Throw in a bad guy, a best friend, and a love interest, add some fantasy for good effect, and you have The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

Well, that’s sort of uncharitable, I know. The good thing about debut author Howe’s novel is that it transitions smoothly between two time periods. It’s also very well researched, though I didn’t discover anything especially new or fascinating. In fact, there was so much attention to accuracy, it distracted from the telling. Howe wanted to tell us every detail at the expense of character development. The character’s dialogue was even further alienating with a forced tone that left this reader imagining the characters cartoonish and predictable.

I seem to be reading a lot about the Salem Witch trials. Here are my reviews of The Shape of Mercy and The Heretic's Daughter, both rather glowing by comparison and probably not destined to become media & publishing darlings. I'm telling you, this average, voracious reader is telling you, The Heretic's Daughter is superior.

Thanks to Barnes & Noble for my fancy copy. If the real thing looks anything like the ARC, it's going to be gorgeously printed.

© 2009

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Wendy said...

I also gave this one a lukewarm review...but loved The Heretics looks like you and I are "on the same page" :)

Marie said...

I have Physick book in my TBR pile, The Heretic's Daughter is a tough act to follow but I'm still going to give it a go.


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