Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane approaches a familiar period in history--the Salem witch trials--with a different slant: What if there really were witches in Salem?

Howe has clearly done a lot of research to write this book, and the way it's presented (through the perspective of a history grad student about to embark on her dissertation) may grate on the nerves of some readers, but for this reader (who's been missing grad school), it's geekishly satisfying.

Unfortunately, the story affords no surprises. Everything is heavily foreshadowed, the characters are all stock and the writing occasionally feels a little graceless; some scenes are filler, unoriginal or poorly executed (especially compared to the writing Howe proves elsewhere in the story she is capable of offering).

I do appreciate the ease with which Howe's story flows between the historical periods and the modern (1991) setting. And did I mention that I really admire not only the amount of research Howe must have done, but also that a research process is incorporated into the story? (I am such a geek.)

Bottom line: I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I'd anticipated.


The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane will be available June 2009.

7 comments:

Steph said...

This one sounds interesting. As a grad student myself, I enjoy books that take place in academia, although sometimes I think authors have a hard time pulling back and editing when they've done a lot of research on a topic. Sometimes they sacrifice story in favor of being overly thorough (I'm thinking of The Historian, specifically), and it can make for a pretty dull read, where you feel as though you're simply reading someone's dissertation. It doesn't sounds as though that's the case here though, which is a good thing!

Jen - devourer of books said...

I've seen a lot of reviews like this and I'm starting to wonder if I missed something. I really couldn't put the book down, which must have made me overlook writing deficiencies because it just 'clicked' for me. Yes, some parts were a bit cheesy, but somehow it was exactly the right book at the right time for me.

Jena said...

Jen--it was a fast read--I only took a couple days to read it, and I really enjoyed it while I was reading it. It's just when I got to the end and there were literally no surprises in the whole book that I felt a smidgen disappointed.

bermudaonion said...

Darn, I was hoping it would be better than that.

Holly said...

This one looks interesting. Hmm....

Zibilee said...

I had some of the same complaints that you did, and thought that some of the situations were predictable and the characters were stereotyped. Overall though, I did like the book

booklineandsinker said...

i love how we can all read the same book but take different things and opinions from it! i find this era to be so interesting and do want to check this book out despite the fact that it didn't live up to your expectations. thanks for the honest review!