Monday, 13 July 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane ~ Katherine Howe

In this engaging novel about the Salem Witch Trials, we follow Connie, a grad student at Harvard who specializes in American History, on a journey spanning the length of a summer in 1991. Connie is an only child, and her mother, Grace, asks Connie to move to Marblehead, Massachusetts (near Salem) to clean out Grace’s childhood home and prepare it to sell. Connie balks at this request as she is supposed to be preparing her graduate school dissertation, not spending her summer cleaning her dead grandmother’s house.

Once at the 17th century home though, Connie makes a discovery in an old family Bible; a skeleton key was hidden in the pages, and tucked inside the key’s shaft is a piece of parchment bearing the words “Deliverance Dane”. Connie is instantly intrigued, and she makes it her sole objective to discover what or who is Deliverance Dane. This mission leads her back into the past as she unravels clues pertaining to her family history and details regarding a puzzling event in the history of our nation.

Flipping between the present and the past, this book kept me captivated from beginning to end. Overall I enjoyed reading the book, but I did have one major complaint: being a story about the Salem Witch Trials obviously there was a great deal of subject matter pertaining to magic. Normally this doesn’t bother me as I can read novels with that content for what they are: fictional stories. But this book bothered me as the characters who were practitioners of magic were also presented as being devout Puritan Christians. These women claimed they were doing “the will of God.” The author went so far as to write out some of the incantations, and the instructions involved saying the names of God and “reciting the Lord’s Prayer”. The Bible is very clear on this issue. Deuteronomy 18:10-12b states:

“There must never be found among you anyone who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire; anyone who practices divination, an omen reader, a soothsayer, a sorcerer, one who casts spells, one who conjures up spirits, a practitioner of the occult, or a necromancer. Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the LORD.”

It’s very obvious from that verse alone that magic is wrong. Yes, there are people today who do the very things in that list, but are they doing it along with the will of God? No. Books can be very misleading, and even fictional stories can tweak our minds to think, “Is that really true??” Because I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused on the issue of magic and God’s viewpoint on it I would not recommend this book to others.


Rosebud said...

Thanks for letting me (us) know about this one!

Anderson family said...

Hmmm...sounds like it's a neat story but thank you for warning about the magic in it! I totally agree with you, 100%.