Books: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

I'm not sure how much of my enjoyment of this novel was heightened by my personal knowledge and experience of Salem, Massachusetts and its surroundings. I lived in Massachusetts for twelve years, half of those in Boston and the other half north of there, and so all the details of highways and such featured in The Fifth Petal make sense to me and add a level of veracity. However, if I were unfamiliar with Salem and/or Massachusetts, I do wonder whether those same details would simply be annoying and unnecessary.

The story itself is a good one, for those who like its ilk: at age five, Callie Cahill was found not far from the spot her mother and two of her mother's friends were brutally murdered. Twenty-five years later, those murders get dredged up yet again and force Callie to think about things she's avoided.

Besides Callie, The Fifth Petal offers an interesting cast of characters: a local witch, the chief of police, and a number of blue bloods whose pride in their deep roots gets outlandish at times. And though I saw the "twist" coming from early on, I still found the book mostly very compelling.

[spoiler below; skip the next paragraph if you don't want to know something specific about the book]

I only wish we'd been allowed to see a redeemed Paul since our final interactions with him as a character are of him being a drunken jerk.

[end spoiler]

This is a book about things hidden and buried. It's a book about the way we put a veneer on things to make them prettier than they really are. It's a book about root rot.

In short, it's a good summer-into-fall read, particularly ripe for the Hallowe'en season.

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