The Need to Know: An atmospheric, detailed mystery, Brunonia Barry’s The Fifth Petal is a satisfying, juicy book to sink into and enjoy.
At its heart, The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry is a murder mystery about who murdered “the Goddesses,” three beautiful young women who were killed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1989 while attempting to consecrate the spot where their female ancestors were executed for supposed witchcraft in 1692.
The answer to this murder mystery is particularly important to Callie Cahill, daughter of one of the Goddesses, who was present at that ill-fated ceremony and only avoided death thanks to “Auntie” Rose, who hid her away before returning to the murder site.
Unbeknownst to Callie, now thirty years old at The Fifth Petal’s opening, Rose is still alive and many of Salem’s residents hold Rose responsible for the Goddesses’ murders, even though there was no evidence that she was their murderer.
When Rose is believed to have committed a fourth murder, this time of a teenager who was threatening her, Callie immediately returns to Salem to clear Rose’s name and to uncover the truth about what happened to her mother and the other Goddesses. One challenge that Callie faces, among many, is that Rose is considered insane by many Salemites, and Rose maintains that a banshee was responsible for all four of the murders.
Though the rich plot of The Fifth Petal is somewhat difficult to summarize, Barry maneuvers the plot and characters deftly, and the book remains suspenseful rather than gratuitously complicated.
Barry’s rendering of Salem, Massachusetts, a city already compelling to many Americans familiar with the barest bits of its history, is smart and thorough, and she has rooted her plot within the occult and religious practices unique to Salem’s history. The ways in which Puritanism, Catholicism, and the occult clash and overlap with each other in The Fifth Petal enrich the reader’s understanding of the characters themselves: their motivations, their fears, and their desires.
I was invested in finding out the answers to the mystery throughout the book, and in true Jessica form, I guessed that several different people were responsible before reading the book's satisfying revelations.
The Fifth Petal is an engrossing, sexy read that is also dense and seemed well-researched.
Fun to read and smart. A great combination, in any book.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review; however, all opinions included here are my own.
For more info on Brunonia Barry: http://www.brunoniabarry.com/
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.