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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.

©2009 Katherine Howe (P)2009 Hyperion

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    819
  • 4 Stars
    641
  • 3 Stars
    349
  • 2 Stars
    89
  • 1 Stars
    48
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    692
  • 4 Stars
    328
  • 3 Stars
    138
  • 2 Stars
    43
  • 1 Stars
    11
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    630
  • 4 Stars
    341
  • 3 Stars
    170
  • 2 Stars
    59
  • 1 Stars
    21

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Liked it well enough

I liked this well enough. I agree with some previous reviews - the main character is a little bit "dumb" considering the fact that she's a PhD student at Harvard. But otherwise I enjoyed the story and the narration by Katherine Kellgren is really great - love her different voices. The beginning is great, middle lagged and was repetitive, but liked the ending!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

solid!

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.)

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not great

This is the first book I've taken the time to review. there was very poor character development. I didn't fall in love, with anyone, or the story line. Very predictable and I really had a hard time making myself finish this book. The hospital/medical situations were poorly researched, and silly. The "woo-woo" music at the end of every chapter increased the pain. I will say that when the author traveled back in time, her story was much richer and she painted a much better picture than when she came back to the 1990's

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Slow to Develop but Ultimately Worth The Wait

This book started very slowly. And overall I think it could have used a little more character development in the secondary characters, but it was a very interesting historical/mystery/fantasy fiction book and the author kept all 3 genres active throughout the story. A little more romance might have been nice. You didn't get the sense the heroine and the man she loved were really very close.

The narrator did a great job with all of the New England accents and it was easy to distinguish between her current character voices and those of the characters that were 300 years old. And the house was like something out of a gothic novel. Almost a character itself.

I really liked the way the past was revealed visually to Connie. She took several insignificant and seemingly unrelated facts about a particular person, and as she envisioned the facts in her mind and combined them with other scraps of information gathered, she suddenly became a witness to that person's life. She didn't just know what they owned, she watched them use it. Fascinating.

All in all a very enjoyable read. I think this is this author's first book. I hope she writes more.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Started weak - ended Strong!

Was worth wading through the unconvincing awkwardness of the first chapters. Howe found her stride and the dialogue became natural, the plot became truly interesting. The story was enriched because she did an excellent job of employing both empirical and magical knowledge to weave her tale -- along with a lot of solid history . Unlike some readers, I thought her handling of the man/woman part was refreshing - not gloppy with romance but definitely making the mutual interest and consummation clear. I plan to try the next book.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

From my understanding this is Katherine Howe's first novel and I can't wait for her next.

True it is a bit slow in areas but I didn't get bored for one minute. The lives of all the women from 1692 to 1991 were wonderfully detailed and I was interested in the process that Connie had to go through to find herself and the book. I couldn't wait for my commute to continue the story each day.

I did find it a little predictable but the story wasn't a mystery - it was about the women who were bound by this book and it's a peek into a time so different from our own.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

The book started off okay, but then it went off the rails. It starts off as a historical fiction, but it moves squarely into the realm of fantasy about half way through the book. The romance isn't terribly compelling, yet we are supposed to believe that the main character's love for the boy is the driving force behind everything else. Likewise, the villain character makes no sense whatsoever, and his motivation requires more suspension of disbelief than the witchcraft.

3 people found this helpful