History is always with us. Sometimes in ways we’re not aware of. So when doctoral candidate Connie Goodwin spends the summer dividing the time between her research of early colonial America and quite literally cleaning house, the interwoven threads of past and present merge in a way she never could have imagined. Atmospheric. One could even say bewitching.
As Connie Goodwin, a Harvard grad student, is preparing to spend the upcoming summer months working on her Ph.D. dissertation, she is asked by her mother to prepare her long-dead grandmother’s house for sale. Connie’s mother, Grace, has neglected to pay the taxes on the old, mysterious house, and she hopes to be able to sell it to pay back the money she owes. Connie reluctantly agrees and sets out to Marblehead, MA with her trusty dog to start the clean up. Connie finds the house covered in vines, filled with all sorts of odd bottles, jars, and books. While browsing through one of her grandmother’s bookshelves she comes across an antique Bible, upon opening the book Connie finds a key containing a hidden scroll bearing the name Deliverance Dane. Connie, being an excellent researcher due to her scholarly studies, sets out to discover who Deliverance Dane really was. After some intensive library research Connie realizes that Deliverance Dane was on trial for witchcraft in 1682 in Salem, MA. and sets her on the search for the “physick” book that is mentioned in the list of Deliverance’s belongings in the city’s archives. Add to this a possible romance with a handsome steeplejack named Sam, and her advisor, the unsavory Manning Chilton who may just be trying to steal Connie’s project to present as his own, and you’ve got a real page turner.
Katherine Howe, who among her family members includes Elizabeth Howe who was convicted of witchcraft in 1692, has written a spectacular first novel told in alternating chapters in Deliverance’s own voice. Was Deliverance really a witch? To find out you’ll have to pick up The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane; it’s a great summer read!