Misses the mark

The Lost Book of Salem
Katherine Howe

The story in a nutshell is that student Connie Goodwin intends to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. Yet things get complicated when her mother wants her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmothers abandoned home near Salem. While cleaning Connie finds an old family bible, a key and piece of parchment fall out. On the parchment is the name Deliverance Dane. Connie finds herself compelled to reveal the history of Deliverance and questing for a long lost book of magic.

This book was a disappointment on many levels and that is a shame as the idea held great promise. I am going to start with some of the things that bugged me about this novel and the first thing was some of the descriptions or actions of characters. Many a time I would read a line and go how does that even work? For example Connie is described in one scene as sitting at the bar tapping her head. Tapping! I even tried it and did not make sense. Then there is when Connie and Sam are in bed, having a lovers tussle and she grabs for his armpit. Then towards the end of the book, Connie is walking next to someone, who she grabs around the waist and hoists her up the gutter. They must be big gutters if you need to be hoisted not helped or assisted.
The other thing that bugged me is that Connie is meant to be a graduate student in Colonial American History and she struggles to understand how women of that time could be named Deliverance, Temperance and Mercy. That did not gel with me at all as Connie is meant to be an educated woman.

The thin edge of the story is the involvement of the character Chilton, Connie’s graduate supervisor as a plot mechanism. His involvement while crucial at the end, it is how he becomes involved that makes little sense because it is almost psychic. How does he know that she will go and clean Grandma’s house discover a key and parchment that will lead to a book? I like Chilton, he held promise to be a really manipulative character where you could be continually doubting his motives.
The historical parts of the book are better thought out and hold more interest as world is interesting, well researched and has real conflict.

The best way I can describe this book as rushed. It feels that the story has been rushed, that the characters have been rushed because every now and then you catch snatches of the novel you want to read. That is what keeps you going until the end.