I am completely fascinated by the Salem witch trials of the 17th century, and picked up this book hoping for an interesting fictional insight into the trials, and a good modern-day mystery. This book delivers on both counts, providing a solid, well-researched background of historical New England, and a mystery in the form of an old key and a name - Deliverance Dane. I very much liked the way the author drew readers into the story, with some alternating chapters set in the past. The atmosphere of the book was excellent, really drawing me in to both modern day New England and Massachusetts Bay colony. Though I thought I saw the ending coming, an interesting twist kept me reading and engaged.
However, a few things about the book kept me from enjoying it to its fullest. For one, I couldn't understand why it was set in 1991, except to make a joke about cell phones and to keep the protagonist from hopping online to do some research. From what I read, she would have likely had to do the same research in person even if the book were set in 2009. I also disliked the way the protagonist seemed to find dull, bored, or grumpy employees at the libraries and museums where she researched. I got tired of the false drama she created between herself and the clerks and other staff members she was trying to get information from, and it rang very false to me.
My other issue was the seeming obliviousness of the protagonist. She's a graduate student, apparently respected in her field, with ample experience in what she's researching (as shown in the first few pages of the book), yet she misses the most obvious clues and doesn't seem to understand how to research beyond the very basics. A few times I just wanted to slap her upside the head and remind her of what she was thinking just a few pages ago. Quite a few times she seemed excited to find one piece of the puzzle, only to forget about the mystery entirely for days or weeks.
All in all, pretty solid, but I won't be returning to this one.