Carl's Reviews > The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
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's review
May 22, 11

bookshelves: american, literature, historical-fiction, 21st-century-fiction
Recommended to Carl by: Alexis
Read from May 20 to 22, 2011

Thinking of students: I'm not sure if this will enhance or damage The Crucible for them, but it's a pleasantly engaging re-imagining of the Salem witchcraft episode that so transfixes us still. (Or at least: transfixes me, with my ongoing head-shaking at the depths to which ignorance can take people.)

This piece of popular fiction is often brutally obvious, and the worst segments of it, unfortunately, are the early oral examination and the silly climax (bad places for worst segments!), but it was very enjoyable overall. Vivid characters and an excellent touch for historical detail overwhelm my irritation at Howe's cliches (touch Sam? better mention something tingling!) and helped me suspend disbelief about stuff that protagonist Connie Goodwin doesn't notice despite her astuteness. A good writer can help us suspend disbelief just enough -- nobody needs to suspend it perfectly!

I am amazed to see that someone rated it as one of the Top Ten Books of 2009 (apparently, that was USA Today). I reserve such a list for a combination of engagement -- which this has -- and quality. No worries, though. This earns its own place, relatively unpretentiously. I really enjoyed it, even if it's not a great piece of literature.

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