I decided to buy this book (in hardcover no less) because the theme sounded extremely interesting – a modern-day scholarly investigation into the life and magical methods of the witches of Salem in order to solve a looming curse. I did not know this book was actually a sequel to ‘The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” until I started reading it, but no matter, I kept reading, and found out it wasn’t really that necessary to have read the first book in order to understand this second one.
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book, which started off more like a story with elements of magical realism in it before turning (to my delight) into a full-fledged fantasy, that I have decided to purchase the first book as well and complete the series. If you, like me, are into witch culture, encompassing everything from potion-making, spell-casting, charms, to the existence of familiars (elementals who take on the shape of pets), then you too will enjoy this story.
What I liked most about it is that even though it’s a fantasy, all of the magical elements in it were thoroughly researched and based off actual magical folklore of the American colonial era, especially New England folklore. So even though towards the end of the book the story does delve head-on into the far end spectrum of fantasy, the magic within the story doesn’t feel foreign or childish or like I’m reading a novel at all, but real and like these things could actually happen, and did actually happen in the colonial era.
The book is very strong and Katherine Howe does an excellent job of crafting the story and its characters, especially the female ones, and especially the matriarchs. Connie, the main character, I thoroughly liked and sympathized with, even if sometimes she did come off as self-absorbed and removed from the other people in her life. But as a reader, and especially through that fantastic ending, I could feel everything that the character was going through, and this is what cinched it for me and made me love this book.