Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mommy's Sunday! Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Every now and then, I present a book here on Bookworm for Kids, which might interest the Mommy's (Dad's, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles...and all those other adults) who read these posts and find books for the kids. This time, I dug into an intriguing mystery, which takes the historical details of the Salem witch burnings and the dark corners of mystic past, and shoves it into a modern day murder mystery.

The Lace Reader, Book Two
by Brunonia Barry
Crown Publishing
Adult Mystery
(with Paranormal Elements)
448 pages

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?


Twisted between layers of paranormal and hard reality, this is a murder mystery which keeps the shadows dark and the tension high until the very end.

When a teenager is found dead and the murderess claims to be a banschee, John Rafferty finds himself reopening the unsolved murder case of three self-claimed goddesses from years before. Callie, the child who miraculously survived the crime from that time, returns. Her slowly recovering memory leads to more secrets and dark places no one wants to go.

I did not read the first book of this series and had no trouble sinking into this one. In other words, this can be read as a stand alone.

This is a wonderfully layered tale, which dances between history, ancient myths, magic and reality in a way which makes everything seem possible and even the impossible appear probable. The real reason behind the murders doesn't become clear until the last pages, and although unexpected, the truth is well founded. 

Told in third person, the story bounces between two characters: Officer Rafferty and Callie. John Rafferty is a down to earth cop, who is fairly open minded, warm hearted and as normal as can be. He's easy to relate to and comes across as a comfortable person to be around. He has a good sense of justice and means well. 

Callie is deals well with the situation she was thrust into. Her past is heavy and dark, but she's managed to pull through as a sympathetic individual, who enjoys helping others where she can. In many ways, she's similar to Rafferty and tends to be a fairly well-rounded person with a level head.

There is a large palette on characters, but each one comes across with a different personality and certain purpose. Each one has their secrets and adds to the intricate weave of reality and truth in a way which brings the story to life.

The historical and mythological details create a rich background and open up an intriguing past. Not only the Salem witch hunts, but pieces from other ancient beliefs decorate the edges and make this an interesting read. The fact and fiction intertwine until the two are hard to tell apart. And it's exactly this which draws into the story and doesn't let go. The scenes and surroundings are (in most cases) only given the necessary amount of description, keeping the focus on the historical and mythological details as well as the characters. 

Summed up, this is an engaging read for fans of witches and mythology who still like a solid foot in reality. The history is rich and the mystery is dark and twisted.

I received a complimentary copy from 'Blogging for Books' and enjoyed it enough to want to leave my thoughts.

All about. . .

Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace ReaderThe Map of True Places, and her latest book: The Fifth Petal. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Invitational Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in the London Times and the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. Brunonia co-chairs the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband Gary Ward and their dog, Angel. Gary and Bru are the organizers of the Salem Literary Festival.

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