ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Book Review: Five Roses by Alice Zorn


Today I am here with a book review for Rive Roses by Alice Zorn, a darker character driven contemporary about three Canadian women and the secrets they keep close to their hearts…


FiveRosesAuthor: Alice Zorn

Genre: Contemporary

Version: eBook

Publisher: Dundurn

Source: NetGalley


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Book Description

A sister. A baby. A man who watches from the trees.
Fara and her husband buy a house with a disturbing history that reawakens memories of her own family tragedy. Maddy still lives in the house, once a hippie commune, where her daughter was kidnapped twenty-seven years ago. Rose grew up isolated with her mother in the backwoods north of Montreal. Now in the city, she questions the silence and deception that shaped her upbringing.
Fara, Maddy, and Rose meet in Montreal’s historic Pointe St-Charles, a rundown neighbourhood on the cusp of gentrification. Against a backdrop of abandonment, loss, and revitalization, the women must confront troubling secrets in order to rebuild their lives. Zorn deftly interweaves the rich yet fragile lives of three very different people into a story of strength and friendship.


Five Roses follows three women living in Montreal: Rose, Fara, and Maddy.  Rose is a young woman that comes to the city of Montreal after living a very secluded and destitute life in a backwoods cabin with her late mother.   Fara is a newlywed looking for a starter home with her husband.  Fara & her husband seemingly find the perfect fixer upper in the historic district of Pointe St-Charles, but the house is not without its own history.  Maddy is a single middle-aged woman that works at a bakery.  Maddy also lives in Pointe St-Charles in a home that was a former “hippie house” in the 80s that she has since rehabilitated.  At first, it appears that these three characters’ lives are unrelated, but as the book progresses we start to see the little threads weaving their stories together.  We also begin to realize that each of these women have secrets from their past that haunt them.

Five Roses is one of those books that does not fit neatly into a specific genre.  It has lots of contemporary elements to the story, but also had many darker & mystery elements as well.   Would I tag this as a mystery or thriller?  No.  Would I tag this as a contemporary?  Not exactly.  Literary fiction?  Possibly.  I would peg this as a darker contemporary/literary fiction with heavier themes sprinkled throughout the story.   This is very much a character driven story, thus is not action packed or fast paced, but rather a slow meandering type of read.

I think where Five Roses came up a bit short were the unresolved plot points, lack of connection of Fara’s story to Rose & Maddy’s, and jarring POV switches.  There were many instances where I feel like events/situations were not tied up or explored fully.

For example: *highlight between arrows to view spoiler ⇒

  • Ben’s storyline was introduced, then he just disappears from the story?
  • The situation between Rose & Kenny in the cabin.  Rose rapes Kenny… then it is just brushed off.
  • Rose & Armand’s inappropriate relationship and how Rose questions if he might be her father?
  • Maddy & Yushi’s relationship? 
  • The biggest unresolved plot point revolves around Rose & Maddy, but this particular loose end didn’t overly bother me..

In my opinion, Fara’s story did not really fit in with Rose & Maddy’s stories.   In reality the author could have taken Fara’s story out completely and focused on developing Rose & Maddy’s stories further – this I feel would have made the book feel more cohesive.  This isn’t to say that Fara’s story wasn’t interesting, just that it didn’t seem to connect well with the rest of the book.  I also had a few issues with the POV changes throughout the book.  For example, Maddy’s POV is not introduced until the 23% mark, which felt a little odd to be introduced to a new perspective so far into the story.  There were also a few times where the perspective changed and we were following a new character within each woman’s section – for example Ben’s in Fara’s section.

Despite these issues, I did enjoy reading Five Roses.  I really can’t put my finger on why exactly, but I was invested in this story.  I don’t think Five Roses is going to be for everyone, but rather those that like atmospheric and eclectic types of reads.

***Trigger/content warning: suicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, homelessness, etc.***



5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars*

*Big thanks to Dundurn for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

AliceZornAlice Zorn is the author of Arrhythmia and a book of short fiction, Ruins & Relics, which was a finalist for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation First Book Prize. She has twice placed first in Prairie Fire’s Fiction Contest. She lives in Montreal.


Have you read Five Roses?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know!


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Five Roses by Alice Zorn”

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