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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of THE LACE READER with this spellbinding new thriller, a complex brew of suspense, seduction and murder. When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, 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, wil…

The Fifth Petal: A Novel

by Brunonia Berry

Overall Book Review:

Having read some of Brunonia Barry’s previous books years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Fifth Petal. I was immediately intrigued by the subject of the Salem Witch Trials and how modern day and the not-so-distant past were woven together in this novel. If you have read The Lace Reader by Barry, then you may recognize a few of the characters in this book, but I was pleased to find that re-reading The Lace Reader was not necessary to understand this “companion novel”. 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep track when a book skips around from one time to another, but in this book, it was always easy to tell when it was the past or the present. The parts that did take place in the past were also integral to the storyline, so they always kept me interested. 

If you’re looking for a book that has a bit of history, romance, mystery and intrigue, you might want to pick up this book. (While I thought that perhaps this book was young adult, I personally would not recommend this book to a teen without knowing their reading style. It has some pretty graphic stuff going on, especially surrounding the history of witches.) Some of my favorite parts were when history was brought up and the witches and the beliefs surrounding them were mentioned. I also liked the fact that characters were introduced that were obviously related to some of the witches that were killed in the trials. It just goes to show that history is not soon forgotten, and the past may be nearer than we thought.

Review of an Advance Reader’s Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Random House

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  22 religious exclamations; 19 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 3 anatomical terms; 3 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Scary stories are told involving witchcraft and banshees; a burned body is described briefly; creepy stories are told throughout the book about the past; a young girl is found with deep scratches on her arms, violence is implied; a brief description of witches seen dead and in a grave is given; Halloween is celebrated and costumes are mentioned to be dressed up with blood; a group of young boys threaten an older woman with a knife, in a brief scene, one of the boys ends up dead; slitting throats is mentioned as a method of death; a memory is shared of witches being hanged and dumped in a mass grave; a young girl is remembered to have had a bloody cut on her hand which later turns into  a scar; graphic photos are mentioned of bodies bloodied and throats slashed; the execution of a coven of witches is mentioned and briefly described with some violence and graphic acts; a scary scene is recalled where women are attacked and killed in the woods; suicide is mentioned in a brief scene; characters are described to be suffering from poisoning of a flower that had just been described as lethal; a woman experiences a vision with blood pouring from the walls of a room; a woman is found outside in the cold and almost dies of hypothermia; a woman is reported to have died from exposure to the cold; a scene involving two women fighting and using a knife in self-defense is given, both women fall from a great height and are presumed dead.

Sex/Nudity:  A brothel is mentioned; women wear “sexy” costumes for Halloween; sexual abuse is mentioned with no detail; rumors of a secret sex club are passed around; a non-sexual kiss is exchanged between two characters; a nude couple in bed is briefly described, sex is implied; a character walks in on a sexual scene and is embarrassed, some brief sexual innuendo is given; adults kiss; a woman is mentioned to be pregnant before marriage; a woman has a dream of having sex with her fiance, some sexual innuendo is included; a couple is briefly described to engage in sex, they are implied to be nude; rape is mentioned in a passive way; a man is reported to have cheated on his wife.

Mature Subject Matter:

Murder, loss of a loved one, cancer, illegal business deals, magic, superstition, witchcraft, STD’s.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink; minors are mentioned to be drinking and become drunk; a drug overdose is mentioned; wine, brandy, and other alcoholic beverages are consumed by adults; medical marijuana use is mentioned; illegal drug use is mentioned and characters are described to be high.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.