The Fifth Petal is Brunonia Barry’s third novel. It is my understanding that even though her three novels, all set in Salem, Massachusetts and all involving recurring characters, they are three standalone novels.
Which is good, because I haven’t read the first two and had no problems following along through the third. I am now very interested in reading her first novel, but I digress.
The Fifth Petal is a Young Adult Fantasy Fiction, with a slight edge of thriller. The description on the back of the book says something along the lines of: Chief of Police, John Rafferty investigates the murder of a teenage boy, with eerie similarities to a triple homicide that took place 25 years earlier.
This isn’t entirely an accurate description of the book. Rafferty is only one of the characters, and he is investigating the murder of a teenager, but the only similarity between this murder and the triple homicide is the location and an eye witness.
He’s not even entirely sold on the idea of it being a murder investigation, nor does he want to re-open the cold case from years before.
Mostly, The Fifth Petal is the story of Callie Cahill, daughter to one of the murder victims, and her relationship with her Aunt Rose.
Mixing History and Fantasy in The Fifth Petal
There’s a lot of witch trial history, and some elements of magic, but it’s what I would call ‘fantasy light’. The story is set in a real place, with believable characters, with only a touch of supernatural feeling.
It’s easy to buy into, and I enjoyed it, overall. Parts of the novel are a little slow, and I had trouble reading through those. The beginning of Part Three, for example, was simply for character development.
It’s dry; when you’re that far into the novel, you don’t want character development.
Overall, I enjoyed the read and will likely pick up another book by Brunonia Barry. I’m currently eyeing her first novel “The Lace Reader” which features a character called Towner Whitney – who is a side character in The Fifth Petal.
What I liked about the book…
I liked the witchy goodness. It was more historical than magical, but still. There’s a touch of fantasy with mind readers, profits, and binding spells.
To be honest, I could have done with more magic, but I kinda liked the fact that it wasn’t all in your face, with wands and potions. It made it real, like you could almost believe that this happened.
Plus, Brunonia Barry introduced me to the Banshee – a new character for me. I always love when an author gives me something unique to read. It’s not easy to do!
If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Bring opinions to the Facebook Group.