The Fifth Petal Book Review

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Drink Paring: Cipher Cider—be sure to pour yourself a glass and settle in if this is your book of choice.

This book is slow, and because of the slow pace, it took me a while to get through. There is a lot of back and forth focusing on present day, what happened in 1989, and the witch trials of 1692. There are not separate chapters for these events; instead, we learn the history through present day. This makes it hard to keep all of the facts and details straight.

The book is broken up into 3 parts. Part one focuses on the details of the past—who are the Goddesses, who is Callie, who is Rose, what do all of these characters have in common. Part two fills in more gaps and focuses on Rose and Callie. Part three follows Callie and the town of Salem in the aftermath.

I did not enjoy this book. I was excited about the premise-I love the Salem witch trial lore and learning everything I can about that time period. But this book falls short of expectation.

The characters are flat and predictable. The “big revelations” in this book are things that you can see coming. The title, The Fifth Petal, is explained in several different ways at different points in the novel. All definitions make sense, but they are used to explain the connection between what happened in 1989 and who the main character, Callie has become. Callie is closed off because she is initially afraid that the people of Salem will recognize her. Once people do and she reveals who she truly is, the relationships that Callie has seem stale. She does not connect to others well.

The book is set up in the beginning to sound like a murder mystery. The officer now in charge combs through past evidence and we see some of the investigation, but most of it comes through visions of Callie. Because of this, there is a disconnect. It is difficult to piece everything together at once and the information we receive is back and forth between 1989 and present day. This confusion is frustrating as a reader.

I will note that this book is well written, but that is the end of my praise. There is no clear focus on the story. Jumping back and forth and the various directions the reader is pulled is off-putting. There is no delivering with “solving” the mystery either. There is not a build up to this moment. What should be the book’s climax is dull. I loved the references to Salem in the 1600’s but there were not enough of them for me to stay interested.

I cannot recommend this book.

Rating: 2/5

On Brunonia Barry’s website, there is a book club kit with discussion questions, map locations, and recipes (this is also in the back of some versions of the book—look for a “extra libris” notation in the upper right-hand corner to get the kit in the back of the book).

If you would like more information about this book or would like to learn more about the author, please follow the links provided.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


Cipher Cider:


  • Apple Cider
  • Crown Royal Regal Apple
  • Cinnamon Sticks (or Cinnamon Candies)
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Apple Slices


  1. Heat cider on stove on slow heat, but do not bring to a boil. Stir in cinnamon sticks or candies to taste. Remove from heat.
  2. In a glass, pour a shot of Crown Royal Regal Apple
  3. Pour in warm cider, stir
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top
  5. Use apple slices dipped in cinnamon for garnish


**Please drink responsibly. Drink recommendations are for those of age, who can legally drink.


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