The Fifth Petal: A Novel

The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry I received a copy of The Fifth Petal without realizing, initially, that it was book #2 in The Lace Reader series. I've never read anything by Brunonia Barry before but I was so intrigued by the description on the back of The Fifth Petal that I went out and bought myself a copy of book 1, The Lace Reader, thoroughly enjoyed it and immediately read The Fifth Petal right afterwards. I was equally pleased and impressed with the second book in this series.

Its a book that I find is very difficult to define, as far as genre goes because there are so many different categories it could fit into ...there's a bit of mystery/suspense, a bit paranormal/New age/magic, some romantic/contemporary aspects, all thrown into it in equal measure making it impossible for me to classify into just one category.

The novel is about a series of murders, one incident from over 20 years prior in which three women were killed and a little girl was spared and a second incident years later, when a teenager died under questionable circumstances. The common link in both is Rose, a local historian turned crazy person who was present at both incidents and claims a banshee killed the victims with its screams. The general assumption of the town is that Rose committed the murders and her crazy ramblings are viewed as proof. Detective John Rafferty, along with Rose's psychiatrist, and Call I, the little girl now grown who witnessed the first murders and has now returned to try to get the truth from Rose, all try to uncover the truth of what really happened.

I loved the mix of reality and magic in this book but it was magic that didn't seem all that unbelievable especially when set in Salem, Massachusetts with its notoriety for witches and witchcraft. It was also a nice follow-up to The Lace Reader with reoccurring characters like Rafferty and his now wife, Towner, yet the storyline was completely new and honestly I think this could be read as a standalone and still be very much understood, although it's great to have the backstory of the characters and a better grasp on their development so I would definitely recommend reading these books in order. Being from New England myself I felt Barry did an excellent job capturing the feel and charm of a northeast coastal town filled with hard-working, three dimensional characters that were easy for me to understand and relate to. This book also did a great job illustrating the effects of trauma and grief over the course of many years in the lives of several individuals and how differently it can affect different people.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys murder mystery detective novels, or new age paranormal romances because this book truly has a little bit of something for everyone. I'm giving The Fifth Petal four out of five stars.

I received an advanced readers copy of The Fifth Petal from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.