I am always leery when I am told that I don’t have to start off with the first book in a series since they can be both read as standalones. I ended up being a little bit lost since there are references to events that happened before. Also, I had a hard time feeling engaged with the protagonist, Connie Goodwin. I thought she was selfish and her not telling her long term boyfriend Sam about what was going on was confusing as anything to me. The ending felt like a bit of a letdown actually. There didn’t seem to be much real stakes in the book and I was more interested in learning about witches in the U.S. Southwest and other locations that was brought up via another character.
“The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs” is a sequel to “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane”. This book takes place about 10 years later (2000) and follows Connie Goodwin who is trying to get her book ready for publication and is seeking tenure. She’s happy with her long-term boyfriend. We quickly find out that Sam wants to marry, and Connie is reluctant. When she goes back to her family home (that is located near Salem) she finds that there is more to her history than she knows and she is faced with giving up Sam or finding a way to break a curse.
Connie takes some time to warm up to. For me I had a hard time with her ignoring her mother and her boyfriend’s pleas to get a cellphone finally and also to just call if she will be late. She’s focused on her work and book and just takes Sam for granted. I wish that these two had at least one real conversation about their relationship. Instead we hear about a prior event and then they both dance around knowing that some things in their lives are about to change. It was exhausting.
A secondary character who is one of Connie’s students, Zazi is more interesting, at least she was to me. She’s applying for a position at Harvard and is dealing with some prejudices about her subject matter, being a woman, and also a woman of color too. She ends up helping Connie with her research into her own family.
There’s another character that I guess was in the first book, Thomas, who just didn’t fit. I don’t want to have spoilers, but he was just kind of blah.
Connie’s boyfriend Sam and her best friend Liz are given very little to do. Sam keeps pushing Connie for more than she wants to give and Liz is pushing her to stop looking into things.
The writing was good, Howe definitely did research into England, Salem during the witch trials and after. Howe shows Connie in 2000 and jumps back to show different ancestors of her traveling from England and then settling in Salem, Massachusetts. The one we stay most focused on in this one though is Temperance Hobbs and get to see how it links to what Connie needs to do in her present timeline. The flow was fine and I didn’t get distracted by showing Connie in the present and the different women in her family in the past. I was actually really interested in seeing how life was back in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s.
The setting as I already mentioned changes. We start off in winter in 2000 and go back and forth to previous ancestors of Connie’s. We focus on the Milk Street House which is near the woods where something special is located. It takes us until the end of the book to figure out what and I was a little bit disappointed by that reveal.
The ending was nice and all, but it didn’t feel wholly satisfying.