“There were no witches in Salem in 1692, but they thrive here in great numbers now.”
– The Fifth Petal
I was intrigued by this book when I read a description of it online. I was searching for more seasonal/ witchy reads for October and came across this new paperback release. One of the most appealing things was the fact that Brunonia Barry lives in Salem herself. Who better to write about Salem than a woman who lives in Salem and is familiar with its history? I was hoping for a good murder mystery/ detective type story with a magical undertone. I wasn’t disappointed!
This was my first novel by Ms. Barry, and my understanding is that this is one in a series of novels set in Salem, Massachusetts. But this book can be read as a stand-alone novel. Although there was obviously a lot of history between some characters, I had no trouble following the plot. Barry explains any relationships and past events that are needed to follow this mystery.
In The Fifth Petal, a teenage boy dies and many citizens of Salem, including the police chief, John Rafferty, believe there is a connection between this murder and the murder of three young, beautiful women over two decades earlier. The women were said to be witches and were so beautiful that they had been dubbed “The Goddesses” by locals. There were two survivors of the Goddess Murders. One was a Salem historian named Rose. Most people blamed Rose for the murders. Rose claimed a banshee was responsible. Also surviving was the daughter of one of the goddesses, Callie. Callie was just a little girl when she witnessed the murders. Now, when Rose is being accused of the latest murder, Callie returns to Salem to try to help the woman who was like another mother to her. She is determined to clear Rose’s name and help find the real murderer from that night.
What ensues is a murder mystery filled with old magic, new magic, modern witches, and women who simply acknowledge that they have “special abilities.” There is a little bit of everything in this book – history, mystery, love, suspense, and magic. Ms. Barry has obviously done her research on not only Salem and the witch trials but on various religions and beliefs of the world. Never at any point did I feel like the book was dragging or getting boring or reading like a text book. She kept the story flowing and smoothly inserted her knowledge of things like religious symbolism where appropriate and useful to move the story forward.
I would recommend this thoroughly researched and beautifully written book to anyone in the mood for something magical and mysterious whether for Halloween or any other time.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Up Next: My review of Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. Subscribe to the blog or sign up with your email here so you don’t miss out!