The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe is the story of Connie Goodwin, a Phd student at Harvard university. The story begins with Connie undergoing and passing an oral exam to allow her to go on to work towards her dissertation. This sets up the academic background, and introduces the theme of witchcraft.
Within a few pages Connie is on her way to Marblehead Massachusetts for the summer to clear out her Grandmother's house which has stood empty since her death twenty years earlier.
What she finds is a house in a bad state of disrepair and completely hidden from the road due to the garden being so overgrown. She finds a garden full of herbs and unusual and potentially harmful plants.
On her first night in the house unable to sleep, she stumbles across an old family Bible, inside she finds an old key with the name Deliverence Dane inside it. So begins her quest to find out more about this women. At first she has just a slight interest in researching this person. A visit to her Academic Advisor Chilton Manning gives her the push to start researching harder. He encourages her saying it would be great for her career if she could find an undiscovered primary source for her dissertation.
So off she goes to track down Deliverence Dane. In the course of her researching she meets Sam a steeplejack working in a local church, he helps her to research and they quickly become friends.
As Connie searches further she realises that Deliverence Dane left a book or almanac to her daughter back in 1692. We are treated to a series of flashbacks to that time, in which we learn more about Deliverence her life, her family , as well as the trouble she is in due to being suspected of witchcraft. As well as the journey the book in question has taken.
Connie's advisor becomes more desperate and sinister as her search returns no book or answers. At the same time, her now boyfriend Sam, is involved in an accident at work. His condition turns out to be more serious, and the cause much more sinister than first thought. Connie has to find the book and look to her ancestors and magic for the answers to her problems.
I really enjoyed this book, I enjoyed the flashbacks to Deliverence Dane's time period as well as the modern day story. I particularly liked the cliffhanger endings to some chapters, and the way the next chapter would begin in the middle of the action. With details being withheld to maintain the sense of drama. I liked the characters and enjoyed the plot, and the tension really builds towards the end of the novel. I would definitely want to read more by this author.