The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe:
Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin is working on her doctoral dissertation when she is asked by her goofy mother to clean out her late grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, Mass. Connie agrees to do this odious job for her mother even though she has time constraints and doesn't want to. She reluctantly drives up there and moves in for the summer with her little dog, Arlo. She can't even find the place on Milk St. because the front is so over grown with foliage from years of neglect. She finds the house as bad as the yard, with no phone, no electricity, but at least a flush toilet. From the beginning she realizes that she is sharing her new abode with rats, spiders, snakes and strange supernatural phenomenons. The first night she is rummaging around in the dark for something to read by the oil lamp and comes across an old bible with a strange, mysterious key inside. Upon investigating the key she discovers the name Deliverance Dane written on a small piece of parchment tucked away inside the key. This is of course where the story takes off and the quest for information on who Deliverance Dane is begins. Connie will travel back and forth between Marblehead, Salem and Cambridge Massachusetts in her pursuit for answers. Along the way she will pick up a new friend, Sam, who will eventually become her romantic interest and provide keen assistance in discovering who Deliverance Dane is and where is her Physikc Book, and how does Connie fit into this equation.
The author will take the reader back to the Salem witch hunt and trials where you will learn about Deliverance and her place in history. The story moves back and forth between the late 18th and 20th centuries. I was so excited to get this book. I simply loved the premise of the story. Early New England history is very fascinating to me, especially the Salem witch trials.
When the book came I dropped my current read and settled in with a cup tea for a long evening read. It kept my interest along the way, but that was about it. The characters were not developed well. The author would take the reader just so far and then drop the subject, especially at the beginning of chapters. I hate that. I kept expecting more development of what happened. The readers can figure out the whole plot long before the characters. It wasn't a puzzle to figure out. I knew how Connie was related to Deliverance, but I'm not sure she ever really figured it out in the story or it just wasn't that important to the author to develop the answer. This was not a complex story. There just wasn't any "ah ha" moments. I found myself saying out loud "well duh" to Connie~the protagonist several times. I came away from the book rewriting the story in my mind, wondering why the author didn't include this or that, and really wanting to know more of the story.
The premise of the story is excellent and in the right hands it could have been a block buster!! I give the author two thumbs up for her original and creative idea. This is Ms. Howe's debut novel. I'm sure many readers will find entertaining. For me, I found it disappointing, I expected so much more. Ms. Howe does have talent and with a little development and maturity I believe she will go far.
I give this 3 royal crowns out of 5:
1 crown for originality
1 crown for time period
1 crown for subject matter