The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

“God will give you blood to drink. “—SARAH GOOD, 1692

Callie was 5 years old when her mother along with her two friends were killed on Halloween when performing a blessing at Proctor’s Ledge, the real site of the hanging of the Salem Witches. Named the Goddesses, the woman were the descendants of the original Salem witch hanging victims and had a reputation of bewitching men in Salem. Rose, a historian and mother-figure of the group, hid Callie during the murders and gave Callie a rose rosary, the imprint of which is scarred on Callie’s hand due to Callie squeezing it so hard when hiding. Callie went to an orphanage and Rose lost her mind and went to a mental institution. The murders went unsolved for 25 years and became part of Salem’s spooky history until a boy mysteriously dies after Rose curses him. Callie who was unaware that Rose was still alive until she saw the news report, comes back to Salem to care for Rose and see if she can get some answers about her past. Callie begins to have visions of her past and tries to help Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, solve the murders but sometimes leaves more questions than answers. There were suppose to be five people there, a descendant for each of the five accused witches that hanged, so who was the fifth person? Rose keeps ranting that a banshee was released that night 25 years ago and killed the 3 women and the boy she cursed. Were they killed by an evil spirit or something more human in nature?

This book is a very slow read. It seems like a lot of people that did not read the first book in the series, The Lace Reader, had the same issue and did not finish it. The plot did not require you to read the first book but the problem may be that you were not invested as much in the characters than you would be if you did. This book went into a lot of mythology and ancient history and New Age medicine so if you are not into any of these or have no previous knowledge of them, I would avoid this book. I was attracted to this book by the Salem witch trial theme to the book but I feel that the author did a good job fleshing out the story with the mythology, history, and the back stories of the characters. What kept me going through the story that the gradual unraveling of the mystery of the murders and what actually lead up to the murders and how all the backstories and the history is connected. I felt it was worth the read and now want to read The Lace Reader.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

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