Published by Crown
Publication date: January 24th 2017
I carry no weight, no worth, no influence. I represent nothing. I do not exist…But remember this as you flee: You brought me into existence. I am not the cause, I am merely the effect.
The Fifth Petal is set in contemporary Salem, Massachusetts making it a heady concoction of witches, evil, superstition, murder, magic and tragedy. Rose Whelan, a local historian who, decades ago, was witness to the murder of three young women who lived in her home now stands accused of murder herself. The problem? Since the original murders Rose has morphed from a vibrant woman with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Salem witch trials to an odd woman who seldom speaks except to predict when someone is going to die. After she is put in jail, Callie, a young woman who uses music therapy to help heal patients, returns home to help Rose, who often take care of her. Oh, and by the way, six-year-old Callie was at the murders of the young women, one of whom was her mother.
John Rafferty is the Salem chief of police and is in a unique position to understand the supernatural element of Rose’s claims when she does awaken. His wife is one of the many citizens in Salem who has extrasensory gifts. In fact, the town has embraced its duality—one as a place still repenting for the women who were falsely accused of witchcraft and two, of a place where witches happily convene. Good witches, or wiccans, for the most part. Author Brunonia Barry harnesses this blend of guilt and capitalism to populate Salem and The Fifth Petal with characters who are truly trying to help and those who are pursuing their own agenda.
When you take the components I mention in my opening sentence there is a chance the resulting novel can become…ridiculous. Barry doesn’t let this happen with The Fifth Petal, but she doesn’t waste the supernatural elements embedded in the story. Instead, by twining them around the more understandable concepts of greed and vengeance she gives the novel a tension that pulls right up until the final pages.