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Dear Librarians

I have always credited two Salem, Massachusetts institutions for my fiction-writing career: The

House of the Seven Gables and The Salem Public Library. At sixteen, I was fired from my summer job as
a tour guide at the Gables—for making up stories. Hoping to hide my humiliation from my mother, I

walked to the Salem library every morning after she dropped me off at work and hid out, reading, until
it was time for her to pick me up at the end of the day.

Curious at my daily presence, one of the Salem librarians befriended me, and I told her my

story. In the days that followed, rather than judging me, she began to bring me books on Colonial
America and Salem history, in hopes that I might win back my job. I never got my job back, but a love of
libraries, librarians, and the research process was born.

Rose Whelan, a pivotal character in my contemporary Salem story THE FIFTH PETAL, is a

librarian who runs the Center for Salem Witch Trials Research. A well respected scholar, Rose has

written several books on the subject, uncovering the real site of the hangings of 1692, a place that has
been wrongly identified for centuries. Rose was one of Salem’s most respected citizens until, on
Halloween in 1989, three young women with ties to Salem’s executed of 1692 were brutally murdered

at the very site Rose memorialized, and Rose became the primary suspect. In the twenty-five years that

have followed, though never arrested, Rose has lost everything: her home, her reputation as a scholar,
perhaps even her mind. Avoided and feared in Salem, Rose has become “other.”

It is up to our protagonist, Callie Cahill, daughter of one of the victims, and John Rafferty,

Salem’s Chief of Police, to uncover the truth of what happened in 1989 and, hopefully, clear Rose’s

The livelihood of contemporary Salem depends largely on tourism, and it’s our dark history that

draws the tourists to what has ironically become a safe haven for Pagans and witches from all over the
world. Living here, with family roots that go back to 1628 and accused witches hanging from my family
tree, I have often wondered at the strange evolution of “The Witch City.” Though the form may have

changed, witch hunts continue throughout the world. What might a modern day witch hunt look like in
Salem? Would we even recognize it for what it is?

At its core, THE FIFTH PETAL is a story about fear and prejudice, and what it can do to us. To

quote Rose Whelan: “Tell me what you want, and I’ll tell you who you think you are. Tell me what you
fear, and I’ll tell you who you really are.”

I hope you’ll enjoy this modern Salem story. And to all of the librarians out there who inspire readers
every day, I send a heartfelt thank you for giving me my fiction-writing career.

Read On,

Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader, returns to her

contemporary, otherworldly Salem with this spellbinding new thriller, a complex brew of
suspense, seduction, and murder.
Advance Praise for THE FIFTH PETAL
“In contemporary Salem, a murder has taken place, with roots that reach back to the seventeenth-century witch
trials. Filled with twists and turns, as well as ancient tradition and modern mystery, Barry’s story has deft
pacing, a marvelous sense of place, and a quirky cast of characters. The Fifth Petal is another haunting tale by
the author of The Lace Reader where past and present collide.”
—DEBORAH HARKNESS, New York Times bestselling author of the All Souls trilogy
“Brunonia Barry’s Salem is alive with rich history, and with a unique and colorful cast of characters: witches
and healers, lace readers, the well-to-do and the down-and-out. And everyone’s got secrets. The Fifth Petal is a
mesmerizing take on the ways the past affects and influences the present. ‘Time isn’t linear,’ says one of the
characters, and the way Barry artfully weaves together a modern-day crime, a twenty-five-year-old murder case,
and the Salem witch trials, you’ll close the book believing that she’s absolutely right.”
—JENNIFER McMAHON, New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People and
The Night Sister
“There is true magic in The Fifth Petal, where Salem’s dark history of murder threatens to destroy yet one more
young woman, a descendant of one of the accused witches. As in The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry weaves
been touched by the invisible world.”
—KATHLEEN KENT, author of The Heretic’s Daughter
“Brunonia Barry has done it again. If you liked The Lace Reader, you’re going to love her new novel, The Fifth
Petal. A real page-turner about murder and prejudice and love and what’s possible and what isn’t. Enjoy”
—B. A. SHAPIRO, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger and The Muralist

978-1-101-90560-9| $27.00| 150,000 | Crown HC | January 2017
E: 978-1-101-90561-6| CD: 978-0-7352-8642-9 |AD: 978-0-735-28640-5