I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Fifth Petal (The Lace Reader, #2) by Brunonia Barry
Series: The Lace Reader #2
Published: January 24th 2017 by Crown
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Last summer I took an epic road trip up the coast with a few friends on our way to a wedding in New Hampshire. On the way back, we stopped in Salem, Massachusetts, and I fell in love with the city–and not just the kitschy witchy bits. Between the overall atmosphere, the herb shops (I bought so much tea), fortune tellers, comic shops, random pirates, and tasty food, we ended up spending many more hours in Salem than originally planned. So when I saw that TLC Book Tours was doing a tour of a murder mystery with witches set in contemporary Salem, I was intrigued.
The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry opens with a murder that takes place in the late 1980s. Three women known across the town as the Goddesses are brutally murdered. There were two survivors/witnesses–Callie Cahill, the young daughter of one of the victims, and Rose Whelan, a local historian/auntie figure whose sanity is broken by the event, and who claims that the girls were killed by a banshee. The case goes cold, and is relegated to becoming one of Salem’s legends.
Flash to the present day (2014ish), and Rose Whelan is present for another death, this time a young troublemaker who has threatened her with violence. Even though there’s no physical evidence linking her to the crime, public superstition blames her for the death. Meanwhile, Callie doesn’t even know that Rose is still alive, and races back to Salem to be reunited with her.
The other main character, of course, is Rafferty, a local police officer who is friends with Rose. And when Callie shows up, he feels compelled to reopen the case of the Goddess murders and to find out what really happened.
The Fifth Petal is actually technically the second book in a series. The first book is The Lace Reader, which I haven’t read. But you can definitely understand The Fifth Petal without having read The Lace Reader first. The two books share some of the same characters, but have their own unique story arcs.
One of the things that I loved about The Fifth Petal was that it truly embraced the uniqueness of Salem. There’s a sense that anything is possible, and there’s a constant back-and-forth between stark reality and folklore, new age healing and modern medicine, evidence and visions… and that back and forth is something that is uniquely possible because it’s Salem. Rafferty represents logic. Rose represents the spiritual/ethereal. And Callie emerges as a character who is capable of balancing both natures.
There are a lot of characters in the story, which makes it hard to guess immediately who the murderer is. In fact, I didn’t figure it out until I’d nearly reached the end of the book, and had been swept into suspecting a fair number of red herrings. I’m not sure if I would have suspected as many people had I read The Lace Reader first, mostly because I’m not sure which characters show up in both books.
The only one thing that threw me was figuring out exactly where Rafferty pulled the five-petal symbolism for the connection between the ritual the Goddesses were trying to perform and the original Salem witches. But I’m not sure if that’s something that wasn’t explained well enough, or if the effects of stress and sleep deprivation led me to miss something important.
Overall though, The Fifth Petal was an excellent read, and I relished the opportunity to immerse myself in Salem once again. It makes me feel like it’s time for another visit.
As part of the blog tour, I’m giving away one copy of The Fifth Petal. The giveaway is US only. Please enter by using the Rafflecopter below.
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