The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

2017 Broadway Books


“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, will evil rise again?


The Fifth Petal is a whodunit full of mystery, mysticism, historical fiction and lots of “magic.” This witchy read was a page turner with an ensemble cast of eccentric characters who all have skeletons in their proverbial closets. I adore this witchy read, and cannot express enough how well written, well thought out and truly spellbinding the book is from cover to cover.

I chose to read The Fifth Petal at the perfect time of year. The leaves are falling and Halloween is right around the corner, although I would love this book if I had read it in the middle of hot July. There are bits of adult humor, and now more than ever I am determined to visit Salem and see the history for myself. The detail in this book is indescribable. Descriptive and enchanting, it reads like a movie, scene to scene. The way new characters and their back stories are introduced, down to minut prop placement and character interaction. And Rafferty, in my head is played by Ed Harris. If there is (fingers crossed) a movie made, I won’t accept anyone other for this role.

I adore the characters in this book. Rafferty and Towner, for their rock solid connection. Callie and Rose for their connection and uniqueness. The budding and honest love that forms between Paul and Callie. Ann- who is my personal favorite, for her unwavering dedication to who she is, even though she is often misunderstood. Emily, Marta and Finn, who all have qualities to love and hate. I could go on and on about how well developed and multifaceted each character is.

The book also touches on actual alternative healing, such as sound science, therapy through sound and vibration healing techniques. All which would most certainly would have been considered “witchcraft” in the 1600’s, and given the right (wrong) environment, could be chastised in today’s society. The book also invokes real seers, who have the abilities that again even in 2017 could be made into people who as Ann said, are other. “And once you start demeaning groups of people, when you make them other, you can justify doing just about anything you want to them, can’t you? Look at history if you don’t believe me.” In the same regard, mental illness, which is also touched on in the book can be viewed the same way. Those who are called “crazy”, “demented”, and once even “witch”, are seen with fear because their mental illness is completely misunderstood. Mental illness is viewed as “other” which is dangerous and as history has shown, has led to damning consequences.

Brunonia Barry outdid herself with The Fifth Petal. I cannot recommend this book enough!

The author’s work can be found at



*This book was sent to me for review from Blogging For Books. All opinions are honest and my own.

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