Thursday, April 15, 2010
Synopsis: 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 family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.
As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.
My Review: I have to say that I bought this book on a total whim, FOREVER ago. At least it seems like forever ago... it was when I actually still had a book store in my town. :/ I'm actually fairly certain I bought this because if I bought a hardcover I got a paperback for some discounted price or something. My own mother read this before I did, told me it was really good, and yet I still didn't read it until last week! I admit I am totally ashamed of myself because this book was AMAZING. I honestly cannot believe I never read this before.
Going into it I was expecting a difficult time actually getting into the novel. Initially it wasn't all that exciting but believe me two or three chapters in it definitely gets good! I have a great passion for history and I thoroughly enjoyed the fantastic research that was put forth into the story.
Connie has just passed her exams and is looking to start her dissertation over the summer. She is in the need of a truly unique and undiscovered primary source to really punch her way through the historical community. She finds more than she ever bargained for however when she accidentally stumbles across a key containing the name of an unknown person: Deliverance Dane. Upon further investigation it is discovered that Deliverance was a woman who was tried for being a witch during the Salem witch craze in 1692. Connie believes she has potentially found her undiscovered primary source and immediately begins the hunt for Deliverance's lost Physick book. The story switches back and forth from present day and to Deliverance and her ancestors. As the novel is hitting it's climax, the POV's change more and more frequently building up the tension.
There were so many things I adored about this book. The amazing historical context is only the beginning. I love the Salem witch trials. It's a time in history where no matter what theories historians have come up with we will never know the motivations and the truth behind people's actions. In truth the witch craze is truly an enigma. The girls were either experiencing some sort of poisoning/ high from moldy bread, or they were just enjoying the attention and power over others in their community. The author does an excellent job of truly getting into the minds of the Puritans. She looks at events in not only a historical context, but the beliefs of the time. It was one of the things that was so refreshing. She made a historical event accessible and interesting to anyone, not just die hard history freaks like myself. The added element of actual magic and mysticism also gave the story that unique twist that kept me reading. I also loved the way Howe embedded the practices of religion into witch-craft. It was an interesting concept that the reason witches were so greatly hated because they believed they were able to communicate with God directly through prayer, a practice that Puritans would have found blasphemous. It opened me up to a lot of new ideas and theories that I had never really considered before. Aside from the excellent plot and historical background there is one more thing that made me adore this book. The love interest of course! Know what the sad thing is? After I had exclaimed how much I adored the love interest Sam; my mom responded "Knew you'd like him" and gave me a knowing look. I can't believe I am truly that predictable! Well... actually I can. Guy who works in building restorations, longish hair, few tattoos, laugh lines, and a septum ring. Can you say yummy?! Plus he randomly brought Connie doughnuts and coffee in the morning, unannounced. Any guy who brought me coffee and doughnuts is an immediate heart throb in my book. :D
Overall just a simply amazing! Fantastical, terrific, pick your adjective! I absolutely adored this book, and I'm positive you will too!
Posted by Ky at 7:36 PM