Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Reivew -- The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe


My rating: 3 of 5 stars







Genre books – how many are there: historical fiction, chick lit, religious lit, et al. I would like to add another category: Dan Brown-knock off lit, which would be characterized as one part myth, one part ancient history, one part ancient locale, mix in one studious expert, add a villain and a potential romance, and voila, you have a novel.

That’s how I felt about The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – it was trying too hard to be a Dan Brown novel, and falling way short.

Connie Goodwin, a PhD student at Harvard, stumbles onto an old family mystery when she moves into her grandmother’s house in Marblehead, Massachusetts. What transpires is an alternating narrative between Connie’s research into her family secrets and voices from the Salem witch trials of 1692.

I really love reading about the Salem witch trials, which is why I was intrigued by this book (and perpetuated by the hype from the NYTimes bestseller list and the Barnes and Noble “Recommends” display). But the author, who succeeded beautifully in descriptive narrative, crashed and burned on substantive plot development. Even I, who normally can’t predict any novels outcome, had this plot pegged fairly early.

One of the most interesting parts of the book was the author’s postscript. I would recommend reading this first before reading the novel – it doesn’t contain any spoilers – and would have provided me intriguing back ground information to file away for reference during the course of the book.

To sum it up: This book needed a witch’s spell to make it live up to its hype, but an entertaining, albeit, plot-weak, novel. I recommend The Heretic's Daughter for a good Salem witch trials book.

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