Review: Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
Belladonna is the first in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Adalyn Grace, well known for her duology All stars and teeth. His previous series was set in a fantasy world with intricate magic, mermaids and pirates, but Belladonna is positioned in a more down-to-earth Victorian-inspired setting. However, do not make the mistake of imagining Bridgerton as this Gothic-inspired murder mystery with paranormal romantic fantasy elements is more along the lines of Crimson Peak meets Hunt down Jack the Ripper.
The murderous premise of a young woman teaming up with Death himself to investigate a potential murder is particularly intoxicating, and the suggestion that Death is a love interest will seal the deal for many readers. Death is a difficult character to portray credibly that conveys the full weight of his immortal existence and countless years of soul harvesting while making it plausible that he could invest himself in a particular human, but the author pulls it off with style. She cleverly builds a mystery around our heroine who somehow survives the touch of death as a baby, giving her a glimpse into her impossible future, even though no one has ever come out alive after an encounter with her. the death. It’s easy to see why Death would be fascinated by Signa Farrow and keep an eye on her throughout his life, as she is something unheard of and offers the prospect of companionship to a previously solitary entity.
Of course, being able to survive a social encounter with Death doesn’t guarantee that Signa would want to spend time with him! She understandably holds a grudge against death given that as a young orphan she was forced to move from one home to another with increasingly less hospitable guardians as they continued to die untimely around her. her, leading to the rumor that she is cursed. All Signa wants is the security of a forever home with a loving family, and death is a threat to that dream, making her very hostile towards him in their first interactions. But when it transpires that her late aunt has been murdered and there’s a chance her killer will strike again, Signa reluctantly must ally with Death in order to protect her new home.
The dynamic of Signa and Death is very tropical and reminiscent of other books where the brave young heroine is pitted against an amoral adversary in a position of power who has a fondness for her. As someone who finds this to be pure catnip, I savored every scene between them. And unlike many books with a similar dynamic, Death is actually a legitimate love interest rather than purely the villain, which means we see a satisfying romantic arc developing between them. Fans of tropes like hate love and forced closeness will be very happy with their relationship!
While the romantic element is a big part of the appeal of Belladonna, it doesn’t overshadow the murder mystery plot in Thorn Grove which is a thrilling atmospheric puzzle that confuses Signa and the audience with multiple red herrings and dead ends on the way to a stunning conclusion with shocking yet satisfying twists. Signa’s investigation of the Hawthornes’ fraught history and the puzzle pieces she tries to put together is truly intriguing and easy to invest in her efforts to protect her new family. The supporting characters feel like realistic, complex human beings, and Signa’s growing connection to her cousins is especially rewarding to see.
This highly imaginative and exciting original premise is supported by lush evocative writing, magical world-building, and a captivating, well-crafted storyline. Easily mixing several genres, Belladonna will enchant readers who enjoy romantic fantasy, gothic vibes, and murder mysteries. A dark, addictive and atmospheric superior YA novel, this is fair warning to all of you not to start reading late at night unless you want to be up after dawn turning the last page!
Belladonna is available from Amazon, Book Depository and other good book retailers, like your local bookstore, starting August 23, 2022.
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Contents | Good reads
Since Signa Farrow has been alive, the people in her life have fallen like stars….
Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa was raised by a series of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being – and each met an untimely end. His remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living in Thorn Grove, an estate that is both bright and dark. Its patriarch mourns his late wife at wild parties, while his son struggles for control of the family’s declining reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she’s been poisoned, Signa realizes the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
Signa’s best chance of discovering the murderer, however, is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating and dangerous shadow who has never been far from her. Despite making his life hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful and compelling than she ever dared to imagine.
Since New York Times Best-selling author Adalyn Grace, Belladonna brings to life a very romantic, gothic world of wealth, desire, and betrayal.