Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal
Series: The Lace Reader, #2
Author: Brunonia Barry
Publication Date: January 24, 2016
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, 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?


Brunonia Barry is an author I fell in love with through a past book club. When I first picked up The Lace Reader, I wasn’t sure why a club member had chosen it. It didn’t seem like anything special, but it was. It was the first book I read with an unreliable narrator and it blew my mind. I went on to re-read it multiple times, and that’s not something I normally do. When I saw Barry was releasing a new book, I was excited. When I realized it was a second book in The Lace Reader world I was ecstatic. I was hoping to find the mystery of The Fifth Petal to be just as engrossing as the original novel.

The Fifth Petal wove past and present to create a brilliant mystery. Young Callie Cahill witnesses the brutal murders of her mother and her friends that is never solved. Years later, when a new death becomes linked to the past murders, she returns to Salem to help Police Chief John Rafferty search for the truth about the night her mother was killed.

I was drawn into The Fifth Petal during the Prologue. The mystery began immediately and I wanted to know the answers to all of the questions the characters had just as much as they did. I loved the way Brunonia Barry wove this tale and kept me guessing almost up until the end. She also did an amazing job creating imagery and describing the Salem area. I could picture the entire story vividly in my head.

Callie’s point of view was especially interesting to me. Her lack of memory from that original night and her special “powers” made for an unusual combination. The deeper the story got, the more Callie would remember. The more Callie remembered, the more exciting the story became. I loved the way she pieced everything together.

Rafferty’s police perspective on the mystery added a critical element to the story. It took the supernatural aspect of the story and gave it much-needed grounding in reality. I also loved watching him piece together the answers while wading through the past and present cases. I hate admitting this, but I wasn’t as keen on the way his past with Towner was used. I loved seeing them involved in the story, but at times it just felt like extra added stuff. That may be because it’s been a few years since I’ve read The Lace Reader, and my memory of their relationship isn’t as strong as when I first read it. I wasn’t as drawn to their relationship as I was to what Callie was going through.

While I truly enjoyed reading The Fifth Petal, I did find it to be a little bit long. I was invested in the story the entire time, but there were parts that felt dragged out. The story probably could have wrapped up a little quicker. I had already correctly guessed some of the answers to the mystery at about 75% in. I was just waiting for it all to be presented to me.

Overall, The Fifth Petal was a great mystery to unravel. It’s one fans of The Lace Reader will love and new readers will also enjoy.

6 thoughts on “Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

  1. Great review! I keep seeing this book everywhere and was quite hesitant to pick it up because it seemed like I should have read the first book before this one. However, it seems like it isn’t necessary to read them in any particular order, so I might check into it!

  2. I got The Lace Reader from the library once because you mentioned it, but it ended up being one of those books that expired before I got to it. I definitely need to give it another try – especially now because there’s a second book! Great review!

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