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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book.
Connie (Constance) Goodwin is a PhD Graduate at Harvard having just sat through a rigourous oral exam to get her Professorship. First though she must find something to write her Post Doctoral thesis about. She settles on American Colonial History.

It is the end of the Semester so now she has a lot of time to carry out her research but she is constantly pushed...
Published 22 days ago by Pyewacket

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I found this an enjoyable, quick read - but I can't give it more than 3 stars for several reasons. (1) Somehow I never really got involved in the modern-day part of the story - I didn't much care what happened to Connie. I preferred the characters of Deliverance Dane and her daughter - it would have been good to have had more of them. (2) In general, I don't think the...
Published on 4 Jan 2010 by Reader 11


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book., 1 Aug 2014
By 
Pyewacket "czarnowice" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Kindle Edition)
Connie (Constance) Goodwin is a PhD Graduate at Harvard having just sat through a rigourous oral exam to get her Professorship. First though she must find something to write her Post Doctoral thesis about. She settles on American Colonial History.

It is the end of the Semester so now she has a lot of time to carry out her research but she is constantly pushed by her Mentor, Manning Chilton. When she gets a phone call from her "new age" Mother she finds herself being shoved in another direction that of renovating her dead Grandmother's old cottage and garden. Much to her dismay the cottage is really run down so she has to set her Thesis to one side for the time being and concentrate on cleaning the cottage up. Whilst she is looking through an old Bible, a hollow key falls out of it. Inside the key is a tightly rolled piece of paper bearing the words Deliverance Dane.

She finally pieces together a sad story that takes us the reader back to 1692 to the Salem Witch Trials.

She also meets a young man called Sam who she falls in love with. As she delves deeper into her research she finds that her family had connections to Deliverance Dane who was hung as a Witch. Chilton Manning keeps bothering her and it's only when Sam has a serious accident that everything falls into place. Someone has cursed Sam and it is up to Connie to lift the curse and find out who put it on him. Will the book of 'Receipts'help her?

This was such a good book I read it all in one sitting. It was well researched and you could feel empathy and sympathy with the characters. Incidentally all the so called Witches in 17th century Salem were real people but I don't believe they consorted with the Devil.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspend your disbelief..., 6 Sep 2009
By 
Allhug (Newcatle upon Tyne) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
This book is absolutely amazing - I wish I could give it more stars!

The story of modern Harvard PHD student Connie researching her thesis on American Colonial History is interwoven with the story of Deliverance Dane, a 'cunning woman' caught up in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Throw in a family legacy of accidents befalling the men in the line, a latin scholar room mate, a bohemian puzzle of a mother, a delicious steeplejack boyfriend and a nutty professor and the story is complete.

The story is at once an historical mystery weaving it's tantalising way through a family secret and also a spellbinding, unbelievable, wonderous story of magic, good, evil and misunderstanding. The worry and superstition of the pre-scientific era is dealt with sensitively, illumiating both the perceived and the very real threats facing the God fearing Salem Villagers of that time period. In addition, the level of detail in terms of the modes of dress, the furniture and the inticacies of the daily life in 1692 is absolutely fascinating.

I started it yesterday and could not put it down - I've wasted all wekend reading it in long sittings, stopping only for lunch and the odd cup of tea! - The writing was beautiful and the pacing of the novel was extraordinary, adding to the suspense. You were more than willing to suspend your disbelief when reading this novel through the skill of the author Katherine Howe.

Well worth reading. Wow!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ, 15 Jun 2011
By 
Eleni - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have ever read; the story is fascinating and very original, the characters excellently developed and real, and the historical background great.

Connie Goodwin, a graduate student of Colonial American history at Harvard, is looking for an original subject for her research, when her unconventional, new age mother asks her to renovate and sell her grandmother's house near Salem. Connie is amazed by the old colonial house and its magical garden, but her academic interest is captured by an old key with the unusual name of Deliverance Dane inside an old Bible, so she begins to research this strange and yet very familiar woman from the past. Her research takes her to the famous witch trials of 1692 and as Connie investigates her subject and traces a mysterious book, she learns more about herself and her family than she could ever imagine. The story takes place in present time 1991, but as Connie unfolds the story of Deliverance's book, short interludes take us back to the past and we get glimpses of the reality of these amazing women whose lives were linked with this special book.

Katherine Howe has created a fascinating and gripping plot enriched with vivid details, probably drawn from her own academic knowledge of colonial history and also her heritage as she is a descendant of two accused Salem witches; Elizabeth Proctor and Elizabeth Howe. The main character, Connie, is one of the best developed, complete and believable characters in literature I have ever come across and her interactions with all the other characters of the novel, as well as the way she deals with her academic research and her growing understanding of herself are excellently presented. In addition the short interludes of the past are so well written, with amazing historical detail and vivid descriptions, that it is almost as if the reader is there witnessing the events. Sadly, these interludes are very short and we only get glimpses of the past, thus personally I was left wishing to know more about these women, to be part of their lives and to get to know them better. However, that is exactly what happens when we research the past and I think that this longing to look more deeply into the everyday lives of all these women and to know them more, a longing known only too well to anyone who researches the past, adds to the story and makes Connie even more real and familiar.

This book is truly a page-turner and I highly recommended it!

This book is also published with a different title as The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read... Brilliant!, 16 Oct 2009
By 
This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
I came across this book by chance at a book store and don't regret buying this at all!

The book is based on the Salem witch trials and a modern day doctoral candidate in American History, Connie Goodwin.

Connie, at the request of her mother, spends the summer clearing out her grandmothers cottage on Milk Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts and finds interesting treasures, amongst them a parchment with the name Deliverance Dane enscribed on it. From then on, you could say her life takes a huge leap in to a mystery which will change Connie. Her studies interlink with her discoveries in the cottage and Connie goes in search of a book, The Physick Book, which dates back to Salem, not yet realising that another party has a hidden interest in this very book. She also begins to experience haunting visions of the Salem witch trials, and you begin to wonder whilst reading this, whether Connie has more ties to Salem than she even realises.

To mention any more would give too much away, but should you choose to read this book, you will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating premise but a somewhat passionless read, 15 Oct 2009
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
The Lost Book of Salem (aka The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane) is a very good and enjoyable read, but I must admit it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Perhaps I was a bit too intrigued by the premise. I'll read anything connected to the Salem Witch Trials, and here we have a novel - written by an historian - promising to offer a different take on the controversial subject, one that not only proffers the idea that there could be an element of truth to the colonial witchcraft charges but also offers up the prospect of an actual witch's spellbook lying in wait in some forgotten repository. And get this - first-time novelist Katherine Howe is actually related to two of the Salem women accused of witchcraft, Elizabeth Howe and Elizabeth Proctor. Having done postgraduate work in history myself, I know the exhilaration of pouring through rare primary documents in search of heretofore unknown facts or discoveries, and I was thoroughly prepared to revel in the protagonist's search for any and all of Deliverance Dane's centuries-old writings. Unfortunately, the novel never developed into a true page-turner for me.

Doctoral candidate in history Connie Goodwin finds herself charged with spending a summer in Marblehead, Massachusetts, readying her grandmother's house for sale. The old, abandoned place is a mess, but the discovery of a mysterious key with an unfamiliar name stashed inside it in an old Bible sets Connie on a path of discovery and potential scholarship. Her advisor and mentor back at Harvard is exceedingly excited about the prospect of what she might find, but the road to discovery increasingly becomes more personal to Connie as she proceeds with her search. Plenty of evidence of ties to the unknown Deliverance Dane goes unnoticed by Connie, and the reader learns Deliverance's story long before the protagonist does - both of which tend to undermine the reader's fascination with Connie's search for truth.

The story just seems to lack a strong sense of passion or intensity underneath the surface, and it does tend to wander at times away from its foundation. I don't have a problem with the budding romance that develops in these pages, but some may feel that it sometimes wanders somewhat astray from the book's central subject matter. What I expected to be one of the novel's most significant chapters wasn't even included, as we're only informed of a crucial event after the fact. Then there is the prime conflict in the story, which I felt required much more explanation regarding its origins.

One relative strength of the novel is the author's attempt to portray life in colonial Salem as it really was, which is a clear byproduct of the author's dedication to history. Some of the details may get a tad tedious to some readers, but I actually felt that Deliverance Dane was a more complete and real character than Connie turned out to be, and that's a bit of a problem because Connie is the main character. Still, it's an interesting read and an impressive debut novel, and it does offer a refreshingly different viewpoint on the lives of some of the "cunning" women caught up in the madness of the Salem Witch Trials.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 4 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
I found this an enjoyable, quick read - but I can't give it more than 3 stars for several reasons. (1) Somehow I never really got involved in the modern-day part of the story - I didn't much care what happened to Connie. I preferred the characters of Deliverance Dane and her daughter - it would have been good to have had more of them. (2) In general, I don't think the central idea of the story (Connie's 'inheritance') was developed as it could have been - it was all a bit predictable. (3) The lost book itself turned out to be rather peripheral to the plot, which was a let-down. (4) The writing wasn't great in places - especially in the first chapter.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping atmospheric mystery, with a few minor faults, 8 July 2009
This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
I heard a real buzz about this book before it's release. I saw a few people state it was their favourite book of the year, so I wanted to get in on the action - it arrived through my letter box on it's release date a few weeks ago.

I can see why people love it, but although I enjoyed reading it, it won't make it on to my list of favourite reads in 2009.

The Lost Book of Salem is set during the Salem witch trials of the 17th century Massachusetts, and also in 1991, where Connie, a history graduate is studying the trials. Connie finds a parchment inscribed with the name Deliverance Dane in an old cottage that belonged to her grandmother, and begins to investigate the secrets hidden in the cottage and in her family history.

The book is packed with 17th century atmosphere, and there are some really good spooky scenes - I especially loved the discovery of the mandrake! The historical sections were well written and had obviously been meticulously researched.

Unfortunately not everything was amazing. I found the central modern character, Connie, very irritating. She is supposed to be a history graduate (22-years-old?) but she behaved more like a 14-year-old. She just seemed slow. I don't think there was a single mystery in the book which she managed to solve before me, and some of them were so straight forward I don't know why they were mentioned. Here is an example of one of the worst offenders:

"Connie raised her head, thinking. What was a 'witch-bottel'? Bottel. A phonetic spelling of 'bottle'. A witch bottle."

Overall, it was a gripping read, full of interesting facts about the history of witches, but it didn't quite live up to the hype.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining and interesting, 1 Aug 2009
By 
love reading "marsy" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
The subject matter of this book is of great interest to me so I was really looking forward to it. The first half, however, was a bit of a let down as I found it quite slow. The pace picked up in the second half though and I couldn't put it down.
I liked the way it was written. The writer is an academic but the book is very accessible and easy to read albeit full of fascinating historical detail. I don't think I had much empathy with the modern day characters but felt they were quite obviously a device to move the story along; I think the writer could perhaps have made a better job of this. I did really enjoy the simple style of writing which made the themes and the history more pronounced in my opinion.
I would definitely recommend this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another book about Salem, a great one, 22 July 2009
By 
Stephen M Blank (Altrincham, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Paperback)
I wouldn't normally have bought this book but heard Katherine Howe interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and though it sounded very interesting. I was right!

I have always enjoyed tales of the occult and of academia. But I have not enjoyed many written by female authors - my fault I know! I found this one superb. The feminine slant is in fact essential but the male characters are three dimensional as well.

The historical flashbacks are thoroughly educational but add to the narrative thrust. It is hard to realise how cruel and unforgiving the world was not so very long ago but Katherine Howe tells us without moralising.

The question as to whether the occult is real or not builds gently through the book as does the heroine's part in it. But the manner in which the revelation comes to the heroine is so brilliantly and simply done - and so realistic - that I couldn't go into detail for fear of spoiling it for the next reader. Satisfyingly, some questions are left unanswered as well.

A new twist on Salem set part in beautiful New England and part in Harvard - and a rewarding read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hocus Pocus, 18 May 2013
This review is from: The Lost Book of Salem (Kindle Edition)
Connie [Constance] Goodwin comes from a line of witches though she doesn't know it. Her historical research at Harvard leads her back to the witch trials in late 17th century Salem and her forebear, Deliverance Dane, hung in 1692. She searches for Deliverance's book of spells, to keep it from the hands of her eccentric professor, Manning Chilton, who wants to exploit it for his ambition. It is not really a serious book, though it has pretensions to historical accuracy and does reflect on the uses of magic and the position of women in Puritan New England. Closer to Buffy the Vampire Slayer than anything else.
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The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe
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