The Fifth Petal (The Lace Reader #2)


Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction // Fiction // Witches
Published: January 2017

And once you start demonizing groups of people, when you make the other, you can justify doing just about anything you want to them, can’t you?  Look at history if you don’t believe me.

Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, 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? (Summary from Goodreads)

I read The Lace Reader when I was a freshman in college.  I LOVED it.   When I heard there was second novel coming out, I had to read it.  But I couldn’t remember a single thing about the first book except that there was a character with the ability to read lace.  That’s it. All I could remember and I pretty much got that from the title.

It is not necessary AT ALL to have read the first novel.  It’s more of a continuation than a direct sequel.  You may not get some of the nuances (I probably didn’t) or understand the relationships between some of the characters. But I don’t think it was a hindrance.  It would definitely improve your experience to read or re-read The Lace Reader but not a requirement.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were a couple of stylistic choices I didn’t agree with and some parts I found a little confusing or unnecessary (like when characters were introduced but never mentioned again). Or when some outdated piece of technology was brought up.

I liked all the mentions of magic and witchcraft.  I find the Salem Witch Trials super fascinating.  I’ve read a few different books that explore the witchcraft these women could have potentially practiced (and yes, historically, we know they were all innocent BUT WHAT IF WITCHCRAFT IS REAL?!)

Parts of the book were drawn out and then the ending happen so fast, it was a little jarring. The end of the book was just summarized and glossed over (after the climax).  There were some parts that could have been cut down but I liked spending time with the characters and really learning about who they were.

I do enjoy Barry’s writing.  I liked how she tied in Irish folklore to the Salem Witch Trials.  I loved the look into this world she created.  It makes for a compelling alternative universe.  And of course, it makes me want to go to Salem despite the complaints about how touristy the town turned into over the last few years! I want to visit all the historical locations and yes, even go to a Haunted House.  Maybe take some witchy pictures.

I absolutely loved that some of her writing was ON POINT and could be read as if she were talking about the current political/social climate.  It tackled society’s view on mental illnesses, how public opinion can turn on dime, feminism, and historical views on women.

I had some ideas as to who the real killer may have been but I have to say, I really enjoyed how it all played out.  Everything was so connected and rooted, it was fascinating to unravel.

It almost leaves room for another book if Barry were so inclined. Personally, I love the version of Salem she has created so I would love an additional book.  For more information about Brunonia Barry, check out her website.

Thank you, Blogging for Books, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Have you heard of The Lace Reader or The Fifth Petal? If you’re interested in a mix of historical fiction and present-day Salem, you’ll want to check out these books! 


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