Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

genre: adult fiction
book 1 of 1 for the R.I.P IV challenge

Connie is so close to her dream, she can almost taste it: a PhD from Harvard, with a prestigious adviser to boot. When her mom asks her to spend some time fixing up her grandmother's home in Marblehead, Mass., Connie drags her early New England studies with her. Soon, however, bizarre treasures found in the deserted home lead to a search for an antiquated book that just might be the key to Connie's success. The more she learns about this book, the more the impossible proves to be possible and between the 1600s and the present day, we learn that the witchcraft obsessed over in the Salem witch trials is more than just an imagining from the minds of some crazed teens.

On the one hand, I liked this story. I liked it for how it buried me in the search for clues. I liked spending time in Salem and its neighboring towns, and for the feel of authentic New England that practically drips from the pages. I even liked the premise that the witchcraft of old was something tangible and real - the "magic" parts of this book felt original and believable, a few parts even got a bit spooky.

What I didn't like so much was that it was a little too predicable for me. The story wasn't "spoiled," per se, and some things surprised me (in a good way) but from the beginning I had a good bit of what was going to happen all figured out. I think I was hoping that somewhere along the line I'd been thrown a real curve-ball.

That being said, I was always happy to pick it up and read it. I DID want to know how it was going to turn out. I always enjoy a book that goes back and forth from one past time-line to a present one, especially when the two together mesh together, each providing pieces to a puzzle. THAT the book did well. And when there is some magic in it, and a little love? That's the kind of story I am happy to finish with the scent of my pumpkin candle wafting towards me and a chill in the air. Happy fall :)


Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

I thought the author succeeded beautifully in descriptive narrative but crashed and burned on substantive plot development. Even I, who normally can’t predict any novel's outcome, had this plot pegged fairly early.

And one of the most interesting parts of the book was the author’s postscript. I wish I would have read that first.

Veens said...

This book si just the type I would LOVE to read!

That's the kind of story I am happy to finish with the scent of my pumpkin candle wafting towards me and a chill in the air. Happy fall :)
Perfect wordings!!

Love the review... adding this to my wishlist!

bermudaonion said...

The reviews for this book seem to be all over the place. I'll keep in mind that it's predictable and save it for a time when I need something like that.

Shanda said...

I'm about 30 pages from finishing this book and I agree with what you have said. I enjoy the Salem details and the 1600s parts but sometimes it was very predictable - and you see Connie gasp with recognition and I'm like "are you serious, you really didn't know that yet?" So I had high hopes and just weren't met in the book. However, I am excited to see how it ends. Thanks for sharing!

Okie said...

Thanks for the review. I've heard good hype about this book and keep intending to pick it up.

Beth F said...

I keep meaning to get to this one. I too have seen mixed reviews, which makes me even more curious.

Cecilia Johnson said...

I agree totally with your comments on the predictability of the novel but still also enjoyed the story and history weaving. I listened to this on audio and think the narrator did a great job. Solid storytelling.

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