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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane Hardcover – June 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Cambridge and Marblehead, Mass., Howe's propulsive if derivative novel alternates between the 1991 story of college student Connie Goodwin and a group of 17th-century outcasts. After moving into her grandmother's crumbling house to get it in shape for sale, Connie comes across a small key and piece of paper reading only Deliverance Dane. The Salem witch trials, contemporary Wicca and women's roles in early American history figure prominently as Connie does her academic detective work. What follows is a breezy read in which Connie must uncover the mystery of a shadowy book written by the enigmatic Deliverance Dane. During Connie's investigation, she relies on a handsome steeplejack for romance and her mother and an expert on American colonial history for clues and support. While the twisty plot and Howe's habit of ending chapters with cliffhangers are straight out of the thriller playbook, the writing is solid overall, and Howe's depiction of early American life and the witch trials should appeal to readers who enjoyed The Heretic's Daughter. The witchcraft angle and frenetic pacing beg for a screen adaptation. (June)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Harvard graduate student Connie Godwin is determination personified. She will get her doctorate and find success as a historian, whether her aura-reading mother understands her bookishness or not. But first she has to contend with her tweedy adviser’s oddly urgent demands and her late grandmother’s incredibly old, long-abandoned house in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The house is cloaked in vines and stuffed with dusty old bottles and books, but its clutter yields a tantalizing scrap of paper carrying the words “Deliverance Dane.” Connie hasn’t a clue, but the reader knows, thanks to alternating chapters set in the late-seventeenth century, that Deliverance was a good woman accused of being a witch during the infamous Salem witch hysteria. Soon Connie, admirably sensible in the face of mystifying, even terrifying occurrences, zealously searches archives and libraries for healer Deliverance’s “shadow book,” while struggling to understand her own weird, new powers. Historian Howe’s spellbinding, vividly detailed, witty, and astutely plotted debut is deeply rooted in her family connection to accused seventeenth-century witches Elizabeth Howe and Elizabeth Proctor and propelled by an illuminating view of witchcraft. In all a keen and magical historical mystery laced with romance and sly digs at society’s persistent underestimation of women. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Voice; First Edition edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401340903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401340902
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (505 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katherine Howe was born in Houston, Texas, a fact which often surprises people. She is the author of THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and which has been translated into over twenty languages. In 2012 she hosted the Expedition Week special "Salem: Unmasking the Devil" on the National Geographic Channel.

Her second novel, a historical thriller set in Boston in the aftermath of the Titanic sinking entitled THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS, was released in the US in April 2012, and was a USA Today and New York Times e-book bestseller.

Her third novel, a young adult historical thriller called CONVERSION, follows a group of teenage girls who must uncover the real reason behind a mysterious outbreak at their high school. Praised as "Prep meets The Crucible," CONVERSION will be released in the US on July 1, 2014.

Katherine also served as editor of THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES, a collection of primary sources about witchcraft in English North America which will be released by Penguin Classics on Halloween 2014.

She lives in Massachusetts and upstate New York with her family, where she teaches at Cornell while working on her next novel. She enjoys roaming the woods, reading, and sailing, and she looks very fetching in a pointy hat.

She may be found on Facebook as Katherine Howe, and on the web at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

191 of 199 people found the following review helpful By Valorie T. on April 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Connie Goodwin is a Harvard Graduate student working on her doctoral dissertation. Her advisor, Manning Chilton, suggests that she find a unique and undiscovered primary source to focus her research on. Unfortunately for Connie and her academic progress, not a lot of work is getting done on the dissertation, not since Connie's earthly and eccentric mother Grace called to ask her to go up to Marblehead, Massachusetts and help get her grandmother's house ready for selling. While going through her Grandmother's house, Connie chances along an old bible and a key that contains a scroll with the name Deliverance Dane.

Her curiosity is peaked. Uncovering the past through scattered documents and records, Connie soon enough learns that Deliverance Dane was accused and killed as a witch during the famous Salem Witch Trials, leaving behind a book of receipts, or what we would refer to as recipes. Connie passionately searches this book out, tracing the lives of mother to daughter until she comes to see her own family connection in this all. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane weaves reality, history, and magic together as logical and realistic Connie faces the possibility that there may be something more to this world than can be explained by reason alone, especially when her own safety begins to be threatened by something faceless and nameless.

This is a page turner. I just couldn't put this book down and loved the flashbacks to Deliverance's time the most. The late 1600s were hard for women, especially Puritan women who had to be steely and reserved at all times. I came to respect Deliverance for her steadfast nature and her want to help those very people who condemned her.
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121 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Take several loaves of moldy bread coupled with cookware made of toxic base metals, stir in a cup of religion, a tablespoon each of imagination, jealousy and superstition and you have the basic ingredients of the Salem Witch Trials as well as the intriguing infrastructure of THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE.

Enter modern day PhD candidate, Connie Goodwin, asked by her mother to spend the summer cleaning up her grandmother's ancient home in Marblehead, Mass. Connie discovers that Granna's garden contains an overgrown mass of "healing herbs" and her house is filled with bottles and jars of unusual elixirs as well as a plethora of items worthy of a spot on the Antiques Roadshow. (What it does not have is electricity).

Connie meets a local steeplejack named Sam who just happens to be a college grad (complete with nose ring) and together they begin a search for the lost "recipe" book of one Deliverance Dane, victim of the Salem Trials. Enroute to the solution and conclusion of the book, Connie makes some amazing discoveries, not the least of which are her own healing abilities as well as her families long history with Salem. It appears that even Connie's dog, Arlo, could be a pet with a past.

The book moves smoothly between the two eras and the stories of Connie and Deliverance are captivating. The attention to historical detail is admirable. If I have one complaint about this book it is this. In the name of authenticity Katherine Howe has imbued her Marblehead, Mass. characters with a New England accent that I found irritating and difficult to read. I repeatedly had to go back and re-read certain sentences in order to determine what a character was saying, and this did nothing but interrupt the flow of the story. Other than that minor complaint, this book is a must read for anyone intrigued by magic, witchcraft or historically accurate fiction. 3 1/2 stars
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Katherine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane takes the Salem Witch trials of 1692 and asks the question: What if at least one of the accused really was a witch? With that intriguing question, she brings us into the academic world of Connie Goodwin, a grad student at Harvard in 1991, whose doctoral thesis takes a back seat when her mother persuades her to clean out and sell her grandmother's house in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Once she arrives at the abandoned house, Connie discovers an old key containing the name "Deliverance Dane" inside a family Bible, and with her curiosity piqued, she begins tracing an old "physick" book used by the accused witch. Along the way she encounters romance, an anxious and grumpy mentor, and a mystery that seems to grow the more she investigates.

Set mostly in 1991, Howe intersperses her story with chapters set in the past, giving illumination to what was going on before, during, and after the witch trials. Though the mystery is fairly easy to figure out, all of the characters are likeable and Connie's journey into the past is fascinating. I had an easy time imagining the settings, and the paranormal aspect comes out naturally through the course of Connie's work. There was a bit of a slow start, but once the story picked up, the pages flew by as I got caught up in the plot. Biggest complaint? Howe's need to have some of her characters speak phonetically to reinforce their New England accents, a totally unnecessary element that pulled me out of the story every single time it occurred. Still, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is a well-researched, well-written glimpse into a What If? scenario that I doubt many of us in modern times had thought to ponder. Excellent reading!
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