2010: 9. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe

     This is the sort of book that makes me think that anyone with half a brain could write a book and get it published.  Which is not to say that this book is terrible - it’s not, by any stretch - but it’s so obvious that I was able to predict every single thing that would happen from about page 50 on.  And so, while I appreciate that Howe told her story reasonably well, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was reading a story that didn’t surprise me in any way, shape, or form.  

     If you’re willing to read something you’ve read before, here’s the story.  A graduate student in history at Harvard (whose name I have now forgotten) is searching for a dissertation topic at the same time that her mother asks her to go to Salem and clean out her dead grandmother’s house, which hasn’t been touched in thirty years.  So she goes out Salem to the abandoned house (which doesn’t seem much like Salem as I know it, but whatever), and strange things start happening.  And there is a boy, and a (SPOILER - if you’ve never read a book before) evil professor, and there is possible magic.  And in between chapters we get flashbacks to the history of Physick Dane, a woman hanged as a witch in the Salem witch trials, and her progeny.  

    Look - the writing is not bad.  We’re not talking Da Vinci Code here - Howe can write a sentence.  And the flashbacks reflect Howe’s training as a historian - they seem authentic (if done before - I’ve read enough stuff set in the Salem witch trials to last me about forever).  It’s just that the plot really, really hit me over the head with a two by four (in a classic you know who the bad guy must be, because there aren’t that many characters, and you wonder why the heroine is so damn dim).  I can’t say it’s not a bad read -I might even pick up something else Howe wrote, for like, the beach, or an airplane trip - but my expectations would be low.

Date/Place Completed: January 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017