Tuesday, April 22, 2014
"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane", by Katherine Howe
The general outline follows several sets of mothers and daughters, their relationships and how they differ. At the heart is the witch hunt where the good folks of Salem thought they were hunting real witches that were putting the entire community in actual danger through malicious magic.
The protagonist is Connie Goodwin a Harvard student working on her PhD, her dissertation topic brings her on a quest to find an old tome, a book of witchcraft. While cleaning her deceased grandmother’s house Connie discovers a key in an old family Bible and the name of Deliverance Dane the author of a book of remedies and spell….hence history comes to life where many scenes cite historical figures involved in the Salem witch trials and vividly portrayed the women accused of practicing witchcraft and what they went through. We also have a romantic sub-plot and lots of supernatural phenomena…… lots of hocus-pocus, lots of abracadabra, lots of smoke and mirrors and puff inevitably visions…. Really?
This book may captivate some minds but definitely will not please everyone. Some may say it is richly written and that the author has immense descriptive abilities, surely true but it missed the target in many ways. Reading this tale felt like molasses: thick, too slow to come and left a terrible after taste (boring and beyond silliness). I was expecting more depth and historical data but I found a totally uninteresting version of one of the most notorious cases of mass hysteria in the early modern period.
Even the characters were under developed, the protagonist for example was simply too dumb for a PhD student in Colonial History, her ignorance was mind boggling. This book left me totally flat and I am surprised I haven’t ditched it before the ending… yes I made it to the last page this was the best part of the whole experience….glad it ended and I could move on. This is the way I see it….