The Fifth Petal

The Fifth Petal

by Brunonia Barry


$27.00 View All Available Formats & Editions


Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of THE LACE READER with this spellbinding new thriller, a complex brew of suspense, seduction and murder.

When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101905609
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 01/24/2017
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace Reader, The Map of True Places, and her latest book: The Fifth Petal. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Invitational Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in the London Times and the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. Brunonia co-chairs the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband Gary Ward and their dog, Angel. Gary and Bru are the organizers of the Salem Literary Festival.

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "The Fifth Petal"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Brunonia Barry.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

1. Contemporary Salem is a safe haven for neo-witches, greatly enhancing the city’s tourist trade, but there are many who want to “ditch the witch.” Could a modern day witch hunt happen in Salem again, and, if so, what might it look like? Are witch hunts happening in other parts of the world?
2. “You know who you are, you have always been other,” Rose says in her Book of Trees. In what way is each character in the book “other”?  Rose later claims every culture, and every individual, harbors a prejudice against those they consider “other”. Do you agree?
3. Callie longs for home and family, and particularly for a mother figure, having lost her own mother at a young age. How does Callie fulfill that dream, and at what cost?
4. Is the banshee a goddess or a monster? Its power seems to reside in a woman’s raised voice. How does that power manifest in the hands of the different characters?
5. At one point in the story, Rose tells Callie not to “court the strike.” What does she mean, and why is this important to the story?
6. Social media is both a resource and a curse in the novel. The wealth of available information helps Rafferty with his case, but the opinions of anonymous posters also condemn Rose, mirroring Salem’s accusers of 1692. Discuss the positive and negative impacts of social media.  
7. Brunonia Barry, who lives in Salem, is often surprised by the generational guilt the city still suffers for the 1692 witch hangings. In what ways does this manifest in the story?
8. Sound and vibration figure in The Fifth Petal, with a capacity to both hurt and heal. How does the banshee’s killer sound relate to vibration and music therapy? How does the music of the spheres that Callie hears during meditation relate to the ancient music heard in Matera?
9. Religion played a huge role in 1692 Salem, as did misogyny and fear of the unknown.  Discuss Rose’s quote: “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.”
10. Trees symbolize both the interconnectedness of all life and the roots of humanity in this story. How does the sacred oak help Rose, and what is the significance of the Tree of Life? What does it mean to Callie in her translation of Rose’s Book of Trees?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Fifth Petal: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This latest story by Brunonia Barry did not disappoint. I love the way she draws you in and the ending is never what you expect
Kaits_Bookshelf More than 1 year ago
I was searching for more seasonal/ witchy reads for October and came across this new paperback release. One of the most appealing things was the fact that Ms. Barry lives in Salem herself. Who better to write about Salem than a woman who lives in Salem and is familiar with its history? I was hoping for a good murder mystery/ detective type story with a magical undertone. I wasn’t disappointed! My understanding is that this is one in a series of novels set in Salem, Massachusetts. But this book can be read as a stand-alone novel. There is a little bit of everything in this book – history, mystery, love, suspense, and magic. Ms. Barry has obviously done her research on not only Salem and the witch trials but on various religions and beliefs of the world. Never at any point did I feel like the book was dragging or getting boring or reading like a text book. She kept the story flowing and smoothly inserted her knowledge of things like religious symbolism where appropriate and useful to move the story forward. I would recommend this thoroughly researched and beautifully written book to anyone in the mood for something magical and mysterious whether for Halloween or any other time. Read full review at:
Angela_Campbell More than 1 year ago
I normally never read traditionally published authors anymore. I had read the blurb for this and it caught me. I love anything about the Salem witch trials and the ways Brunonia Barry weaves truth and fiction are fantastic. I loved learning about Rose and watching Callie grow up into an amazing young woman who took her pain and made it greater than. It is a lesson we can all stand to learn at times. There is just enough fantasy weaved into reality that I could imagine something like this happening in real life, which made the story that much better for me. Come visit Salem, I hope you love it as much as I did.
Bookworm_Babblings More than 1 year ago
A great page turner!  I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. The Fifth Petal is book two of The Lace Reader series.  In this portion, a few years has passed since book one.  Towner has decided to stay and although the relationship with her mother is strained at best, Towner has restored her aunt's tea room, and has it serve as a halfway house for the women living at Yellow Dog.  The mystery opens on Halloween night, teenage boys heckling an old mentally ill homeless woman.  They claim she's a witch, and when one of the boys die.  The outraged people of Salem want justice to finally be served.  Will Rafferty be able to find the killer before there is a witch hunt like olden days? Brunonia Barry once again brings us a story rich in the history of the Salem Witch Trials.  There was so much suspense, this book held me at the edge of my seat.  I was engrossed until the very end and was taken by surprise by the end.  This was a great suspenseful novel with lots of unsuspecting twists.
Phoenix_Rose_Reader 7 months ago
Beautifully written and entirely captivating, The Fifth Petal is a mystery novel that leaves you wondering who dun it the whole time. The pacing of the story seems to stall at times, only for a new clue to be discovered and everything picks back up again. I found the characters wonderful and intriguing, with each leaving a touch of mystery to their overall intentions as well. Definitely worth a read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well-developed characters and a unique plot, make this a compelling read. I loved every minute!
Momma_Becky More than 1 year ago
A multiple murder from the past that remains unsolved and a current death that may or may not be murder in a town whose very name is synonymous with witches. Add to that a growing suspect list and a boatload of secrets. Brunonia Barry is quite talented and that shows in The Fifth Petal. The writing is descriptive, the characters are interesting, and the suspense builds as the story progresses. The supernatural element does add something to the mystery, and most of the solving process is done through visions and memories rather than actual investigation. Nevertheless, Chief Rafferty is an engaging character in spite of having little to go on with these cases. I did have trouble warming up to Callie, but she did grow on me as her story unfolds and the author does a good job of eliciting sympathy for her situation. The story does tend to ramble at times with unnecessary information and some chapters end rather abruptly, both of which become a distraction from an otherwise good story. On a positive note, I did enjoy the bits of history from the witch trials sprinkled throughout the book, and the twists and secrets revealed kept me turning pages to find the answers.
StephanieTiner More than 1 year ago
When a young man dies without an obvious cause, John Rafferty, chief of police in Salem, is forced to consider that the boy’s death may be related to a cold case murder called “The Goddess Murders.” On Halloween night in 1989, three young women, descendants of women accused and executed during the Salem Witch Trials, were brutally murdered. On that night in 1989, there were two surviving victims, and a history professor named Rose Whelan. Now 25 years later, Callie Cahill has returned to Salem, no longer the scared orphaned five year old, convinced that Rose Whelan did not kill her mother all of those years ago. Now John Rafferty and Callie Cahill will work together to solve the mystery of “The Goddess Murders.” This was a very interesting read for me. I remember learning about the Salem Witch Trials and reading “The Crucible” in high school. The fact that the entire town was stricken with hysteria amazes me. But those were different times, and we have come so far in the fields of science. I found the story to be well constructed and developed. The overall pace was steady, enabling the reader to develop their own thoughts and perceptions on the 25 year old murder. The settings were rich in details, making the locations come alive in the mind of the reader. A few of the locations were less detailed than others, however, these locations served small importance to the story line. The characters were very interesting to me, especially the character of Callie Cahill who quickly became the most prominent main character. The synopsis on the back of the novel lead me to believe that John Rafferty was the main character, however, as the novel developed further, Callie took the lead. The personalities of the characters are well-rounded and easily believable. From Rose Whelan, who suffered mental trauma, to John Rafferty and his dark past. Both of the mysteries were intriguing, though the death of the teenage boy was solved rather quickly with very little mystery, it launched further investigation into “The Goddess Murders” which ended up being the real mystery. I was completely surprised by the big revelation at the end of the novel. For some time, I had believed another character was the murderer and I never even suspected the true culprit until the very end. What I liked the least about this novel would be the lack of answers. The main mystery was solved and left very few unanswered questions, however, I was left with many questions about some of the characters themselves that I wish had been addressed. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a compelling mystery with a touch of history and the paranormal. I received my copy of this novel from for the sole purpose of providing an honest review and have permission from the publishers at Broadway Books to use the image of the cover artwork featured above.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Photolady More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. I really enjoyed the mystery element. I loved how the author tied it all together in the end. This was very well written and kept you interested/involved all the way through the book. I encourage everyone interested in mystery to ready it.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Everyone in Salem knows about the infamous and horrific ‘Goddess Murders’ of 1989. When Rose, one of the survivors of that horrible night, becomes the suspect in the murder of a teenage boy, Billy Barnes, Callie decides that she must return to Salem. Callie must see if she can help Rose. After all, if it hadn’t been for Rose, Callie could have been a victim that night, also. Rose saved her that night. Callie, a professional sound healer, feels she may be able to help Rose, so, as soon as she finds out that Rose is in a catatonic state, she rushes to her side. She returns to Salem...and to her memories. I love Brunonia Barry’s books about the mystical, magical city of Salem, Massachusetts. This book is even better than the ones I have read previously. Her ultra-realistic characters carry her mystifying plot, dragging the reader along a path of suspense. I could not put this down. Our author also introduces her readers to something new. In this case, she tells us about the subject of healing with sound. In addition, she introduces the reader to a lovely and unusual part of the world, Sassi of Matera. I enjoyed every minute of this book! I wish to thank Netgalleys for the free copy of this book.
Michelle_Palmer More than 1 year ago
Set in modern day Salem, Massachusetts with call backs to 20 years ago and the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s, this murder mystery includes fascinating characters and a great plot. Callie is a music therapist but she is also the survivor or an event 20 years ago that took everyone she knew away from her. Not only were her mother and 2 other women murdered but the woman she considered a grandmother disappeared from her life and she was told she was dead as well. She heads to Salem when a new murder occurs and that same woman is accused of the crime. Rafferty and Towner from the first book in this series (The Lace Reader) are back and play a large part. Rafferty is the town sheriff and helps Callie to settle in as well as trying to protect her from some uncomfortable truths about the past. The characters are wonderful, the setting is beautifully described (particularly the trees which play a large part in the story) and the plot is incredibly well paced. This is a real page turner.
BookwormforKids More than 1 year ago
Twisted between layers of paranormal and hard reality, this is a murder mystery which keeps the shadows dark and the tension high until the very end. When a teenager is found dead and the murderess claims to be a banschee, John Rafferty finds himself reopening the unsolved murder case of three self-claimed goddesses from years before. Callie, the child who miraculously survived the crime from that time, returns. Her slowly recovering memory leads to more secrets and dark places no one wants to go. I did not read the first book of this series and had no trouble sinking into this one. In other words, this can be read as a stand alone. This is a wonderfully layered tale, which dances between history, ancient myths, magic and reality in a way which makes everything seem possible and even the impossible appear probable. The real reason behind the murders doesn't become clear until the last pages, and although unexpected, the truth is well founded. Told in third person, the story bounces between two characters: Officer Rafferty and Callie. John Rafferty is a down to earth cop, who is fairly open minded, warm hearted and as normal as can be. He's easy to relate to and comes across as a comfortable person to be around. He has a good sense of justice and means well. Callie is deals well with the situation she was thrust into. Her past is heavy and dark, but she's managed to pull through as a sympathetic individual, who enjoys helping others where she can. In many ways, she's similar to Rafferty and tends to be a fairly well-rounded person with a level head. There is a large palette on characters, but each one comes across with a different personality and certain purpose. Each one has their secrets and adds to the intricate weave of reality and truth in a way which brings the story to life. The historical and mythological details create a rich background and open up an intriguing past. Not only the Salem witch hunts, but pieces from other ancient beliefs decorate the edges and make this an interesting read. The fact and fiction intertwine until the two are hard to tell apart. And it's exactly this which draws into the story and doesn't let go. The scenes and surroundings are (in most cases) only given the necessary amount of description, keeping the focus on the historical and mythological details as well as the characters. Summed up, this is an engaging read for fans of witches and mythology who still like a solid foot in reality. The history is rich and the mystery is dark and twisted. I received a complimentary copy from 'Blogging for Books' and enjoyed it enough to want to leave my thoughts.
Storytellermary More than 1 year ago
THE FIFTH PETAL by Brunonia Barry Wonderfully complex, with layers of story, from the Salem witch trials to a cold case murder in the ‘80s, to present time, like the layers of a pearl, or a flower bud, or the inter weavings of lace and tree branches. It was fascinating to watch it all come together. Well-written and engrossing; I couldn’t put it down, despite thinking I needed to. Tension and suspense were relieved with wit, like this quip about background checks for psychics: “Anyone without a past could now read the future.” “Crazy lady” Rose gets messages from the oak trees and seeks to find and bless the remains of the Salem witches and control the death-dealing banshee. Callie, survivor of that night, heals with music and sound while dealing with her own visions and memories. The music therapy connected for me — a teaching colleague practiced music therapy, and a hospice nurse used my storytelling CDs to help her patients relax and rest. Rose’s drawing of a tree “looks like lace.” I’ve thought that also, looking at winter trees. “Humans are rooted like trees.” Roots below, branches above “on earth as it is in heaven” Wisdom for our times: “Once you start demonizing groups of people, when you make them the other, you can justify just about anything you want to do to them, can’t you? Look at history . . .”
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com More than 1 year ago
I was very pleased to see Brunonia Berry return to the world of The Lace Reader – I read it years ago when it first came out and really enjoyed it. Well, it had been a while, so I decided I had to re-read it before I could give this latest installment a go. I’m glad I did – I’ve seen a few reviews/comments indicate that you don’t have to read the earlier book to enjoy this one. That may technically be true, but you’d lose a lot I think – the mystery in this new book is not dependent on backstory or information from the earlier book, but the depth of the supporting characters would be completely lost if you had not read it… I enjoyed this one. The mystery at its heart – what exactly happened to The Goddesses on the night of their murder, and who exactly was responsible – is wild and complicated and intense. The plot is engaging (although, I will admit, not quite as much to me so as that of the earlier book) and the secrets are thick on the ground. But, once again, Berry’s true magic is in her characters… And that’s where I think reading The Lace Reader before this one really turns this book into something special. She has an uncanny ability to write complicated, flawed, all too human characters that are likeable and believable even when they are at their most outlandish (or most badly behaved). The plot of this one occasionally felt a little distended to me – there were times when I just had to set the book down, because things felt a little draggy. But I always came back, and they always picked back up again. And the ending – wow. It really grabbed and held me. All in all, I found this read a little more difficult than I hoped for, but it was still quite enjoyable to read – even when the story took me to some of its darkest places. I’m starting to think that may be a key element of Berry’s style – her lovely and fragile (and often broken, albeit not permanently so) characters are forced through the fire more often than I’m comfortable with, but they (and we, as readers) always manage to come out the other side. We – like they – just have to persevere… My review copy was provided by NetGalley.
bookluvr35SL More than 1 year ago
Salem's most notorious unsolved crime, was "The Goddess Murders" in which 3 young women known as "The Goddesses" were brutally murdered on Halloween night in 1989. The only known survivors were Rose (who became known as the town's crazy homeless woman" and Callie, who was the daughter of one of the victims. When a teenage boy dies mysteriously on Halloween night and people start accusing Rose of being the murderer, the investigation uncovers many secrets that people wanted to stay hidden. This book was a thrill ride from beginning to end. I could not put it down. This is definitely a must-read!
Chris721 More than 1 year ago
25 years ago 3 women were murdered on Halloween. Callie's mom was one of the women. She left town after the murders and just returned home. The police chief is still trying to solve the murder from 25 years ago. The book is mainly told from Callie's point of view. It is a story of murder, mystery, and magic. Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.
PNWBookworm More than 1 year ago
The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry, is a mystery with wisps of magic and witchcraft and a healthy dose of Salem history. While the story focuses in large part on the murder of three girls in the year 1989, and a police detectives quest to finally uncover the truth, it is also a story of the people who were affected by the murders and the ways that the past bleeds into the future. The characters in this book brought interesting things into the story that helped keep my interest. For example, Callie, who is one of the main characters, is a sound healer and uses singing bowls to treat people. I found this fascinating and felt that the author did a wonderful job describing this. I have no idea how accurate it is to true sound healers but it made for an interesting addition to the story. Though I truly enjoyed this book there were a couple of faults. The beginning of the story is a bit slow and it took a little while for the story to really grab me. It took me a couple days to make it through part one and only a few hours to finish parts two and three. There were times when I felt like there was too much going on, too many storylines in one section, but it was easy to overlook that. If you have an interest in witchcraft and the occult, then this would be a good read for you. If you like mystery with only a small bit of romance thrown in this will be a good choice. In addition, it is not necessary to have read the first novel by the author, The Lace Reader, to enjoy this one. My overall rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars. One star removed for the slow beginning.
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
The Fifth Petal is the second book in The Lace Reader series. I really enjoyed the first book, especially with its setting of Salem and the witch history. This novel is set several years into the future and it features some new characters along with some from the first book. Callie is at the center of this book, having come back to Salem after decades away. Salem holds a lot of memories for Callie, many of them too horrible to want to revisit. But coming back forces her to confront her demons, both inside herself and those around her. Like the first novel, the story blends magic, history, and thriller elements to create a rich story. The characters are so quirky, even if you didn't like them. The local witch at times seems harmless and at other times the femme fatale. The romantic hero is one moment the privileged son of wealth, the next passionate about his work. Callie is a healer, who uses sound and singing bowls as her healing modality. And there is even a bit of old world feuding that has persevered for centuries, manifesting itself in unexpected ways. I loved the story, but there was a lot going on at times that made it a lot to track. There really were two major plot lines, that while they overlapped from time to time, could really have been two different stories. One other thing to love... I loved Towner in the first novel so seeing her character's life now was wonderful. She was such a tragic character in the first that it was good to see her happy in the second. All in all, a great read!
Nsnr42515 More than 1 year ago
I read this book almost a year ago thanks to a free review copy I won! AMAZING book, I loved how it went from past to present and the entire story pulls you in & keeps you guessing until the end! Great book, very interesting especially if you like reading about Salam witch trials!
onemused More than 1 year ago
"The Fifth Petal" is a mildly paranormal mystery. Callie has grown up with the belief that she carries the shroud of death after seeing her mother and her friends (called the goddesses) killed when she was young. She was "saved" by Rose Wheelan, who gave her a rosary and told her to recite her prayers. The rosary had a five-petal flower on it which she had pressed into her palm so hard, she permanently carries the scar from it. Rose has been homeless and somewhat crazy since the death of the young women who she took care of (including Callie's mother), saying that a banshee killed them and she is holding the banshee inside of her so it won't kill again. Prior to these events, she was a historian working on the Salem witch trials, during which her ancestors had been accused and executed. Rose lives with trees around town, and feels that they talk to her. It is under one such tree that she is accosted by mean young men, and she replies to his threats with the screams of a banshee (she believes) that kills him. Although she confesses to murder, Rafferty, a cop who moved to Salem long after the goddess murders had happened, knows Rose because she owns the tree outside his house (it was left to her in the woman who owned the house's will). He and his wife, Towner, try to help Rose and keep a room for her in their house. Callie hears about Rose, and previously unaware that Rose, the only mother-figure she had really known, is alive, she travels back to Salem. Callie begins to meet with Rafferty as the town cries for the reopening and exuming of the goddesses. Callie's memories seem to hold the key to solving the murders of so long ago. The book is somewhat odd, containing elements of witchcraft and some paranormal abilities in Salem's descendants. Although the murders are the continuous element of the book, the events go all over the place and focus on the general town's history- and the fact that no one is whom they seem to be/everyone has many secrets which seem to keep appearing. The whole town seemed to be hiding things, and these things seemed to slowly come to light, adding some extra mystery to the book. There is also a slow build-up to a romance between Callie and one of the people who live in/around Salem. It seemed to detract from the main premise of the story (the unsolved murders), but it contributed to the final ending. That being said, I felt like it could have been achieved in other ways/I didn't particularly care for them as a couple. I am not sure that the book was quite focused enough- it seemed to get lost in tangents pretty frequently, and I found that it was hard to keep reading/easy to get lost if you put it down for a day (sometimes even when reading straight). There are a lot of side characters and some of the main pieces seemed to get lost in extraneous information. However, I did keep reading to the end and didn't quite guess who was behind the murders (though I did pick up some of the pieces along the way). It was a very windy path through the book and some of the supernatural elements felt a bit like an afterthought. The book changes a lot over time and almost felt like separate stories/events from the first few chapters versus the last few. Overall, it was an intriguing book and a good mystery with some paranormal elements that keep you reading all the way until the end. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are entirely my own.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This book had me riveted. I could not put it down. That is until Callie and her lover (I forget his name) went to Europe and visited the caves which he was helping to repair. Then the story slowed waaayyy down. After that, it picked up a little bit, but it never reached the momentum that it had going from the beginning. It was a good witch story and I was interested for the most part. I just wish it hadn't slowed down 3/4 of the way in. Huge thanks to Crown Publishing for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
A Fatal Romance by June Shaw is the first book in A Twin Sisters Mystery series. Sunny Taylor and Eve Vaughn are identical twins with very different personalities. The two of them joined together to open Twin Sister Remodeling and Repairs in Sugar Ledge, Louisiana. Eve and Sunny are attending the funeral of Zane Snelling, a client. They did a patio and pond for the Snellings. Zane had tripped on his patio and ended up drowning in his pond. The widow enters the church with the urn, trips, the lid pops off and ashes fly out. Some ashes end up on Sunny and in her jacket pocket (which causes to her laugh in nervousness). Sunny offers to fetch a sweeper and Daria Snelling gets upset. Sunny starts belting out a Christmas carol (she does this when uncomfortable, nervous, or thinking about relations with men). Daria orders the twins to leave the church. Sunny later discovers that some ashes are in her jacket pocket. She calls and leaves a message for Daria stating she has something that belonged to Zane and leaves her phone number. Later that day Eve returns to her home to find it ransacked. Someone destroyed her paintings (I am using the word loosely) and left a message on the wall. What were the intruders looking for? When Daria does not return Sunny’s call, the twins go over to her home. They find Daria dead in her kitchen. Detective Wilet is assigned the case and his investigation leads him to Sunny (of course). When clients start canceling their jobs, Sunny sets out to find the real killer. But this murderer will go to great lengths to avoid capture including killing anyone in his way! A Fatal Romance is an interesting concept for a new cozy mystery series. I do not believe there is another series with a set of twins. I found the pace of the novel to be on the slow side, and I was not fond of the characters. I found Sunny to be neurotic. She also has self-esteem issues (appearance and intelligence), and is jealous of her sister. She is also overprotective of Eve and smothers her (I understand why, but it was still unpleasant). Sunny worried about Eve over the course of the investigation. She would drive down her street, call her, and enter her home to check on her (many, many times). If I was Eve, I would change the locks of my home (or move away and leave no forwarding address). I believe Sunny’s singing of Christmas songs is supposed to be humorous, but I found it annoying (my mother thought it was funny, but she did not have to read the whole book). Eve is egocentric and intent on finding the love of her life (she has three ex-husbands from whom she still receives expensive gifts). I think the author was going for quirky, but she missed the mark with these characters. The characters lacked depth and realism. I give A Fatal Romance 2 out of 5 stars (not a fan). Sunny going on about Zane’s ashes was not amusing. She kept going on about the “flakes” in her jacket pocket and I thought she was going to lose it when she found some in the church. The mystery was uncomplicated (once it got started). I could identify the culprit long before the reveal (very small suspect pool). A Fatal Romance is just not my type of cozy mystery (I am told it might be because I lack a sense of humor).
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
Set in Salem, Massachusetts, Brunonia Barry’s, The Fifth Petal, is the story of a woman traumatized when she was five years old by the murder of three young women, one of whom was her mother, and the police chief determined to find the killer. While there are elements of witchcraft and Irish mythology, it’s not really a fantasy story. It’s more of a murder/mystery. With colorful characters like Ann Chase, Salem’s most famous witch and proprietor of the Shop of Shadows, and Mickey Doherty, an entrepreneur who dresses like a pirate, it hooked me right from the very beginning. Suspenseful and well plotted, the true villain isn’t revealed until the very end. This nicely paced novel combines mystery with romance and just a touch of magic.
KimBullock More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed Brunonia Barry's earlier books, but The Fifth Petal is, in my opinion, far and away her best novel to date. It's lush, it's suspenseful, and it builds to a shocking conclusion that made my jaw literally drop. Having recently visited Salem, the novel became that much more personal; I mentally walked familiar streets along with Callie and Rafferty. When Rose communed with her sacred oaks, I imagined a particular oak I encountered in a cemetery there, remembered how I was drawn to hold my hand over its bark, and swore I felt the tree breathe. For readers who have never been to Salem, the energy and magic of the place is captured brilliantly here. Characters from her earlier novels reappear, though this story stands on its own. Make sure to read it at a time when it won't matter too much if you sit up until three in the morning. The rich tapestry of Barry's world isn't easily escaped.