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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  44,172 Ratings  ·  5,436 Reviews
A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history--the Salem witch trials. Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned ...more
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published May 22nd 2009 by Hyperion Books
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Cynda I agree with Tina. This is an adult novel. It takes a lot for me to say that a novel is worth a re-read. I will re-read this book for further food for…moreI agree with Tina. This is an adult novel. It takes a lot for me to say that a novel is worth a re-read. I will re-read this book for further food for thought about the nature of women, the old ways, receipts/recipes, academia, religion, divinity, and evil. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 15, 2014 Mary rated it it was ok

Only a few chapters into the book I am shocked at the following glaring error (and I hope there aren't any more of this magnitude before I'm done):

On page 35 when Liz asks Connie, "Did you ever meet her (Granna)?", Connie answers that her mother told her that she met her grandmother when she came to visit them in Concord. When Liz asks, "Do you remember any of this?", Connie says, "Not really. I think maybe I remember her dying.....I must have been abo
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 04, 2009 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who like irrelevant details
If you're eagerly looking forward to reading this book, avoid my scathing review.

Sorry folks, if this review seems unkind, but I've got major hater tots for this book. I'm not averse to great detail if it's germane to the story or at least interesting, amusing, or informative. But must Ms. Howe describe for us each and every slant of light that passes through every window, and the piece of furniture or floor on which that slant of light falls? And the facial expression of every character in the
Apr 17, 2009 Cheryl rated it did not like it
There was so much that led me to believe I would thoroughly love this book. The topic is of interest to me on lots of levels (I too am related to many of the individuals on both sides of the Salem trials), I've visited the area before, the author has great credentials and has been educated at outstanding schools, the cover is beautiful, the publisher is pouring out a great deal of money into hype, and I enjoy historical fiction as well as looking at something from a different angle. I so looked ...more
Nov 28, 2009 Jessika rated it it was amazing
Usually I'm not the type of person to just randomly go out to Barnes and Noble and buy a book that I'm not sure I'll enjoy. Something about this book pulled me in, though, and it didn't let go of me until I finished it just now.

I loved this book. Katherine Howe weaves her story with the finesse of a practiced writer, not someone who's just published her first novel. There was something about her writing style that I just couldn't get enough of. It wasn't too simple, but it wasn't too difficult
Jun 24, 2009 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
First, I did like this book. It is a great summer beach book; BUT it was much, much lighter than I thought it was going to be and given the hype I had been hoping for much more. The juxtaposition of the historical story and the modern story were very well done and the characters were likable and well thought out. The relationships between the characters in each time period were very real and believable and the descriptions of historical Salem and Marblehead and the Salem Witch Trials were intere ...more
Richard Derus
Sep 22, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.9* of five

The Publisher Says: A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history-the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the fa
Jun 09, 2009 K rated it did not like it
This has gotten a lot of buzz lately in the library world. Four librarians including myself had holds on it before it even arrived at the building. Apparently we'd all been hooked by the same intriguing blurb. Don't make the same mistake! A historical mystery that is slow to no purpose, containing flat, unexceptional writing and an utterly predictable and unoriginal plot.

Whatever, I guess it was fine. Just, am annoyed from having to be reminded once again that one must read reviews with great b
Apr 14, 2009 Nely rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Connie Goodwin, a doctoral candidate in American History at Harvard, who (upon her mother’s request) spends the summer cleaning and clearing out her grandmother's house that has been vacant for 20 years in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Little did Connie know what she was in store for when she agreed to this tedious task.

While browsing through her grandmother’s old books, Connie stumbles upon a very old key in a bible. Attached to this key is an equally old slip of paper with t
UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with the Salem witch hunts. Even as a young girl in elementary school, I read books, watched movies and loved listening to stories about the witch trials and the events leading up to them. So when I saw The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, it goes without saying that I just had to have it.

We first meet our heroine, Connie Goodwin, as she’s about to answer the final question in her qualifying exam at Harvard; “Would you please provide the co
Nov 01, 2009 Wyndie rated it it was ok
Bravo to whoever was responsible for the book jacket. I was drawn in by a glowing review from Matthew Pearl, the author of “The Dante Club.” The premise looked like a unique spin to one of America’s more tragic parts of history, the Salem witch trials. However the novel was a poorly written 375 page disappointment.

I felt much like Connie; searching for a book. The characters (living and dead) were void of dimension, making it difficult for me to feel vested in her quest for Deliverance Dane. Th
Bill Khaemba
“But remember. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it isn't real.”

First of all fun fact about me, I love witch related stories like a lot

I grew up watching Charmed and Sabrina the teenage witch , they were my life. So going into this book was solely based on the fact that it’s about witches and the history behind the famous *Salem Witch trials* . I have to say that this book receives a lot of bad reviews on goodreads but I enjoyed it, the writing-style was excellent a
Nancy (NE)
Aug 14, 2009 Nancy (NE) rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Spoilers possible... The plot of this book is about a modern graduate student's research into a primary source concurrent with the Salem witch trials. There were parts that were extremely well written. The historical sequences, particularly the hangings, were eloquent at times. However, I found so much = the storyline, events, locales and characters predictable, and at the same time, somewhat unbelieveable. I was distracted by the timeline, which seemed unrealistic. How could the main character ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Dfunky1 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-group-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 18, 2011 Elinora rated it did not like it
Very badly written "mystery" that manages to make the Salem era boring. The average reader picks up the clues entire chapters before Our Heroine, Connie, figures them out, and often has to stop reading long enough for her to catch up. I think this book was set in 1991 so that Connie would not have access to the Internet. A few hours on Google or Wikipedia might have solved the mystery in an afternoon.

As several other reviewers have pointed out, the heroine doesn't seem to possess enough brain m
Oct 21, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a few tropes that will convince me to pick up almost any book that promises to contain them. I’ll call one of them “Searching for a Long-Lost Book,” and another “All My Forebears Were Secretly Witches.” Katherine Howe‘s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane features both of these, so it’s no surprise that I’d wanted to read it for a long time. I confess I was privately hoping for a book that combined the awesomeness of two of my all-time favorites: A.S. Byatt‘s Possession and Anne Rice‘ ...more
In the 90s, there was a series called Poltergeist the Legacy. It was about a group of people who investigated paranormal mysteries. It was kinda good. There was an episode that supposedly took place in Boston. The series supposedly took place in San Fran but considering that the money was always marked with Queen Elizabeth II's head, the series was mostly likely filmed in CA. Anyway, the Boston show was about a history grad student who discovers that her ancestor might have been a witch.

Go watch
Apr 22, 2011 Mindy rated it did not like it
SO boring!!! If this book hadn't been recommended to me there's no way on earth I would have kept going. Until the last quarter of the book I could've put it down at any time and never given it a second thought. I thought much of the imagery was over the top and some of it just plain stupid. For example, saying a man in court looks like he smelled of burnt leaves. What is that? Books should paint a picture. Not only do I still not see the picture, it distracted me from the book. Or calling the c ...more
Ticklish Owl
This book felt like it was intended for middle-schoolers; pedestrian writing, uninteresting characters, and a connect the dots plot. The historical sections sounded like they came straight from Wikipedia.

Connie is contradictory and rather dim. One minute she barely remembers her grandmother, the next she vividly recalls a holiday with her. I could have overlooked that, if the story had been more convincing.

I am beyond baffled by Connie's inexperience with the library at the college she attends.
Jun 25, 2010 Charlotte rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I didn't expect this to be good, but neither did I expect it to be THIS BAD. It drives me nuts when people get HUGE book advances and media attention for such sloppy work. What did her editor even DO if she didn't catch the numerous dumb things that don't make sense in this book? For example, 2/3 of the way through, the heroine has to find a book in Widener library at Harvard WHERE SHE HAS BEING STUDYING FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS and doesn't know how to find it and has to ask the librarian why it' ...more
Jun 20, 2010 Melissa rated it did not like it
I'll admit, I picked this book up in the New Fiction section of my library based on the title and the cover (great design). Based on the description and the excited blurbs (by author's I've never heard of, I'll admit) I checked it out hoping it might be something like A.S.Byatt's very literate, very suspenseful Posession. Boy was I mislead. It reads more like a weirdly misguided YA novel (misguided in the thought that the average YA reader would be interested in the academia). The writer really ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Nan rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 04, 2013 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, book-club
Where I got the book: purchased on Amazon. A Sunday in the Park book club read.

The plot: Harvard grad student Connie is assigned by her mother to clear out her grandmother's house, and discovers her connection to the Salem Witches.

I was, on the whole, underwhelmed, which is what happens when you pick up a book that's touted as a Brilliant Bestseller! Spooky! Bedeviling! and find that the writing's that of a newbie writer, good on the important points of grammar and generally stringing words toge
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Angie Fisher for

Connie Goodwin, like many young women, has issues with her mother. So when Grace asks her daughter to interrupt her doctoral research at Harvard to go to Marblehead for the summer and ready her grandmother's house to be sold, Connie wonders why she agreed.

And that was before she walked into the ancient cottage that has no electricity.

Connie's knowledge of Colonial history, her chosen field of study, comes in handy as she learns the secrets of the past
I sometimes wonder about why I review, and whether I enjoy reading less because of reading more critically. I think a closer reading of some things can enhance the experience, but fiction? Especially pop fiction? Maybe it takes some of the fun out of it.

I think I might have enjoyed this book more as a "beach read," where I just read and don't think. Maybe not. Maybe I'm not even capable of that.

Or maybe it's just that as I get older, I get crankier, and less tolerant of stupidity, and women in f
Jun 04, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: made-me-cry
I very much enjoyed reading this book. So far in 2016, it is up there as a favorite read. I didn't expect to get slightly emotional at the end as I pondered the fates of the women accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. Katherine Howe made their fates and helplessness against a suspicious, hysterical society very real and poignant. I didn't realize that the four year old daughter of one of the condemned stayed in prison and subsequently lost her mind from the the experience. Her father ...more
Apr 03, 2013 Brittany rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Reading this book was a bit like being smacked upside the head with one of those really firm couch cushions by an overenthusiastic playmate. It didn't hurt but that's about all that can be said of it.

The foreshadowing in the first few chapters was so very blatant and heavy-handed that I kept thinking surely these had to be red herrings. Sadly, they weren't. Anyone who has read more than three fantasy novels could have mapped out the rest of the book from there.

The main character is such a Mary S
Jun 12, 2015 Tania rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I liked that this book covered so many genres: Historical Fiction, Suspense, Fantasy and Magical realism. I knew almost nothing about the Salem trials before reading this, but I very much appreciated the fact that the author explained (throughout the story and in the postlude) how historians have always interpreted them, and how she is trying to look at the situation differently. The only reason I did not rate this story four stars, is because it took a while to get into it.

The Story:
This book had an interesting premise, but irritated me in a couple of major ways: Firstly, if you're going to write a book involving the Salem Witch trials, you really should assume that your audience already knows a little something about that event. It's 2009; you're not the first person to write about historical witches.

Secondly -I found it very, very annoying that both author and lead character acted as if it would be a MAJOR revelation to the reader that witchcraft was a real thing to peop
Dec 04, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: hist-fic, mod-lit
There has never been a genuine grimoire, aka book of shadows or spell book, found in the US. When Harvard doctoral student Connie Goodwin moves Marblehead, MA to rehabilitate her grandmother's historic home, there are many signs and portents that suggest that Connie may be hot on the trail of the first American grimoire. Her major advisor, Manning Chilton, shows a particularly intense interest in her search, and when Connie's new guy, Sam, has a surprising accident and falls prey to uncontrollab ...more
When I was in high school, I stumbled across Waking the Moon in the public library. Not knowing anything about it - other than it seemed to be about the occult and had a college setting, and I was into tarot cards and other occultish things at the time, preparing for college - that book wound up being a favorite. Now, of course, I remember little about it besides sandalwood and oranges, so clearly a re-read is in order. In any case, it was my first thought when I picked up this book - look, a gr ...more
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Katherine Howe is the author of THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, was named one of USA Today's top ten books of 2009, and which has been translated into over twenty languages. Her second novel, THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS, was a USA Today and New York Times e-book bestseller, and her third novel, a young adult historical thriller cal ...more
More about Katherine Howe...

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“But remember. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it isn't real.” 144 likes
“Of course mothers and daughters with strong personalities might see the world from very different points of view.” 103 likes
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