Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Connie is a Harvard graduate student, struggling to find a topic and primary source for her dissertation paper in the summer of 1991, but to no avail. Eager to make her mark in the competitive world of Harvard research (who knew nerdy professors could be so cut-throat!?), Connie is at a loss until her family lineage intervenes to give her a most excellent topic. While cleaning up her grandmother's crumbling family home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Connie finds an antique key in a dilapidated Bible. Inside the key on a yellowed piece of rolled parchment, she reads the name Deliverance Dane. Her quest to uncover the identity of Deliverance Dane leads Connie on a journey through the annals of time, and reveals the personal role her ancestors had in the notorious Salem Witch Trials.

Barnes & Noble has picked The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane as part of its "B&N Recommends" program. I usually enjoy reading novels in this selection because they take me to books I probably never would have picked up otherwise, and are now my favorite novels. (The Hunger Games, City of Bones, Garden Spells, etc...) However, I was a bit disappointed in this novel, not because the writing was bad, but because the ending was entirely too predictable. I pinpointed the villain in the first half of the book and never questioned it throughout! The rotation of the point of view and time frame from Salem 1692 and 1991 could be a bit confusing, but were very interesting and well-written. Connie's quest for Deliverance Dane's identity took us through her grueling process of research and following leads through libraries and records. Although intriguing for die-hard historians, the average reader (me!) finds her search through the stacks a bit dull and monotonous, and brought me back to my undergraduate days of researching in the creepy stacks of the Texas Tech Library. Maybe I've been reading teen books too long, but this book was a bit slow and predictable, so I give the book an "Ehhhh" and will hopefully reserve my "Wow" for my next read.

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