Book Reviews

Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

This wonderful mystery story has bewitched me. It is more than just a mystery, instead enriching this captivating story with fascinating history, local color, and personalities that jump off the page.

FLYTIP from FLYLef Reviews

It all began 25 years ago with the ‘Goddess Murders’. This triple homicide ignites the city, as multiple theories surface regarding the promiscuity and accused witchcraft of the victims. Only further fueled, a prominent historian, Rose has a mental breakdown after witnessing the crime as well as the young daughter of one of the victims, Callie. Years later, the town of Salem has transformed this horrific crime into a horror side show for their Halloween visitors, but little do they know that this year the crime will come back again to haunt them for good. It has risen back to the surface and won’t go away without justice.

While this is the second book in a series, The Lace Reader, you definitely do not have to read the first to enjoy the second. It is hard to decide which part of the book I loved the most: the characters, the setting, the history, or the mystery. So let me break it down for you. Beginning with the characters, I loved the alternating perspectives of Rose, Callie, and Rafferty, the local detective. (Speaking of Callie, I need the box hair dye she uses to turn her dark brown hair to blonde, which is magic in and of itself). Weaving the story together, the changes kept the plot interesting and allowed us a much boarder look at the setting and the action.

‘Tell me what you want, and I’ll tell you who you think you are. Tell me what you fear and I’ll tell you who you really are.’

My favorite character was Rose by far, not only because I can relate to her scholarly pursuits, but because I can easily empathize with her. Rose is a character I believed in from the beginning, as she is ostracized and feared by the town, but she has a fragile vulnerability and an undeniable passion for justice. Barry does a phenomenal job with the side characters. Each of them possess their quirks and they come alive on the page.

That brings me to my next favorite part: the blend of mystery, history, and local personalities in the story. This was not just a simple mystery story, but part of a much larger saga and arch. You get a definite feel that the characters are not just plot parts, but are an essential part of the setting and the story. It is an excellent decision of Barry to use snippets of Rose’s books, which are both informative and exquisitely written, and the Salem Journal. Together these bring beauty and life to the setting.

While the mystery story is fascinating on its own, what makes this book stand out to me is the building in tension and secrecy as the story goes on, bringing in the side characters and the fabulous history of witchcraft. I was entranced by the folk lore and sorcery, that being a personal favorite of mine. The story is a mix of magic and mayhem: the results of cultures steeped with mythology and mysticism. Old crimes only stay cold for so long and this one has been given new life. Time may heal all wounds, but in this case, justice will not be denied.

You can pick up a copy here, visit the author’s site, or add it to Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

FLYTIPfeature from FLYLef ReviewsLet’s Discuss: What’s your favorite story with witches?

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