Just finished this, my first book of the new year, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.
The cover really caught my eye when it was on the new release rack at Barnes & Noble, but it wasn't too awful long till I found it in the El Cheapo aisle at Books-A-Million, where I grudgingly forked over a fiver for it. I think I got my money's worth, at least.
Part historical fiction, part mystery, part supernatural thriller (although to call it a "thriller" is a bit of a stretch) with a little bit of romance thrown in, this book was a tasty treat that kept me entertained. The historical part was interesting and obviously well researched, and there's even a bibliography in the appendix. I enjoyed the detail and the imagery of colonial New England life. The romance was rather tame. If you have your mouth all set for hot witch sex, this is not the book for you. As for the supernatural part, I thought it was a tiny bit cheesy, but I don't mind that too much. Many of the plot twists I could see coming, but they were still enjoyable.
One of the most interesting themes the author explores is how personal communication with God was pretty threatening to the Puritan belief system. If Puritan life was lived on the premise that you had no control at all, and that to take control out of God's hands was sinful, then to be a healer was a pretty dangerous profession. During her trial Deliverance Dane remarks that she does believe that God works through her, which pretty much seals her fate in the eyes of the ministers assembled to judge her.
Also the idea that the Puritans really did believe in the Devil and that witchcraft was REAL.
I had a very difficult time imagining what life must have been like in a world that didn't understand the difference between correlation and causation. Even if you don't use the Scientific Method per se in your daily life, you still live in a world built on it's principles. How powerless people must have felt when everything that happened was either God's will or the Devil's machinations.
All told, the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane was an entertaining read populated with interesting characters and a thought provoking subtext, almost certain to intrigue anyone with a passing interest in Early American history, feminist theory, religion, or the occult.