In February of 2017 I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Brunonia Barry’s The Fifth Petal (Salem #3).
Due to my enjoyment of The Fifth Petal, and my curiosity in regards to two characters, Towner and Rafferty, who appeared previously in the ‘Salem’ series, I decided it was high time to pick up The Lace Reader (Salem #1) for answers.
Did The Lace Reader (Salem #1) offer more substance to characters explored in later ‘Salem’ novels? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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The Lace Reader (Salem #1) by Brunonia Barry
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 18, 2009)
Print Length: 390 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
Narrator: Alyssa Bresnahan
Every gift has a price . . . every piece of lace has a secret.
Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations. Now the disappearance of two women is bringing Towner back home to Salem—and is bringing to light the shocking truth about the death of her twin sister.
I was looking forward to this book, given my enjoyment of Barry’s other work, The Fifth Petal (Salem #3), but for a few glaring reasons The Lace Reader (#1) did not live up to my expectations.
The Lace Reader (Salem #1) tells the fantastical story of Towner Whitney, a 30 something-year-old woman forced to travel back to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, in order to help her family grieve for the mysterious loss of one of their own.
To start this review off positively, I was once again found myself engrossed by Barry’s lyrical writing style. From her magical descriptions of Salem and Marblehead, to her expertise in writing characters we all love to hate, no one can deny that Barry doesn’t know how to write. However, it is with the structuring of the book where I felt Barry fell short. She chose to start each chapter with a quote from the fictitious ‘Lace Reader’s Guide’ in order to set up the feeling of the chapter. While I did appreciate the inclusion, I have to admit that if I hadn’t listen to The Lace Reader on audiobook I would have eventually started skimming them. Also, Barry chose to tell the story through two perspectives in a non-linear fashion which left me scratching my head in confusion on more than one occasion.
Character wise, I had mixed feelings on the perspectives explored in The Lace Reader. On one hand, I rather enjoyed reading from the perspective of detective Rafferty. Initally he is introduced as the detective in charge of Towner’s great aunt’s disappearance. Through out the remainder of the novel his role grows to that of love interest of Towner and general good guy in a sea of religious zealots. Towner on the other hand was so unreliable as a narrator that I found myself really disliking her by the end of the novel. This was pretty disappointing given the fact that I didn’t have any animosity towards her when I read The Fifth Petal (Salem #3).
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on The Lace Reader (Salem #1) by Brunonia Barry. Have any magical historical fiction recommendations? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.