Book Review: “The Fifth Petal” by Brunonia Barry

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Callie Cahill has returned to Salem, 25 years after the triple homicide that claimed the life of her mother and left her an orphan. Her past is suddenly dredged up when a teenage boy mysteriously dies in a way that seems to connect him to the cold case. Townspeople are pointing their fingers at Rose Whelan, the second survivor of the 1989 slashing. Others claim it is the work of an evil entity that traces back to the original witch hangings of 1692. Either way, Callie is determined to get answers, or die trying.

*Disclaimer: Cristen, resident book reviewer at SAHM, plus…, received this book free in exchange for this review.  Affiliate links are included in this post.


I love fantasy and science fiction novels. Unfortunately, as I quickly realized with this book, I’m not quite as fond of paranormal themes. The moment I heard “banshee” my brain started conjuring up images of Scooby Doo. (Zoinks!) It was difficult for me to lose myself in the story. I kept waiting for the heroine to unmask the ghost and reveal that the villain was really Caretaker Joe (not a real character). But, I digress. Also, I’m aging myself.

It’s a good thing this is a large book. I started warming up to the subject halfway through and stopped assuming every character that spoke of ghosts was crazy or guilty. I blame my resistance on the fact that I live near a renowned ghost town where tourists can take pictures of dust motes for $15 a head. Regardless of my personal hang-ups, I feel this novel is one that would appeal to a wide audience.

I love that Barry peppered her story with real bits of Salem history. It takes a skilled author to dupe her readers into learning something. It’s like when I sneak vegetables into my kids’ meatloaf. Only better, because this worked. The characters are colorful and fully fleshed, giving the reader the sense that their narratives began long before the start of this book. Which, they did, as it turns out. This is a sequel. Thankfully, not having read the first book didn’t hinder following along with the second book. It did make me interested in picking up “The Lace Reader,” though. Which is saying a lot, coming from this supernatural skeptic!

As an aside, I was sure that Brunonia Barry was a pseudonym. So, I looked her up. She is very real. Her parents were probably just botanists. Brunonia and her husband are co-founders of SmartGames, the makers of my family’s favorite strategy games. Some of those games even feature ghosts.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Buy “The Fifth Petal” on Amazon

Book Review of The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry. Spellbinding thriller with paranormal themes

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