By: Katherine Howe
This book had been on my list for a while, and was found quite fortuitously at a book sale last spring. The cover art alone is more than enough incentive for me to read it. And to be perfectly honest, I thought Deliverance Dane was a guy…how could I have been so wrong?
The story takes place in 1991 following the main character, a graduate student in Colonial American studies, as she unravels the mystery of a very special book. Brief interludes to the late seventeenth century, and most notably the Salem witch trials, flesh out the realism of the story and bring history to life.
What surprised me the most was how comfortable this book was to read. Something about it felt like being wrapped in a cozy blanket. The author is highly educated, and unlike other novels I have read by very educated people, the writing was not at all pretentious or confusing. Were there a few big words? Sure, but it didn’t feel at all like she was trying to justify her education to me and I really appreciated that. It was beautifully written, and the attention to detail was quite impressive. Simple things like facial expressions, mannerisms, and personality quirks add so much to a story and in this case made the characters so much more vibrant. It made it much easier to picture and all the more memorable.
The balance of history and story was perfect. I always love stories that include true historical events and characters. The story kept its pace, and wasn’t weighed down by history, despite the heavy nature of the events surrounding the witch trials. There was just enough to add a little background to the main character’s quest, without distracting from it. Not once did I find myself starting to drift. The characters were interesting, both the historic and the modern, as were the relationships between them. While it’s not a thriller, and not necessarily meant to be a fast read, I went through it pretty quickly.
Overall, I highly recommend The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane. At only 360 pages or so, it’s definitely worth it. Until next time…