Belladonna by Adalyn Grace is a fantasy romance novel. Signa has been surrounded by death her whole life, and it’s time to use that to her advantage.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians. Each more interested in her wealth than her well-being and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger, and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer, though, is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.
Characters: 7 | Atmosphere: 6 | Writing: 5 | Plot: 8 | Intrigue: 8 | Logic: 8 | Enjoyment: 7
“And yet when he reached to collect Signa, who was full and settled with her mother’s poisoned milk, the baby yawned and curled herself against the touch of Death’s shadows.
He fell back, shadows retracting. Once more he tried to claim her, yet his touch did not show him flashes of the life this young child had led. It showed him instead something he’d never before seen—glimpses of her future.
A brilliant, impossible future”
I adore books that personify death, and this was one of the big selling points for why I picked this book up. I was absolutely not disappointed on that front, and I enjoyed the way that Grace presented death. The fantasy concepts of his realm and his powers continued to keep me reading, although I felt more attention could have been given to this (I’ll talk about that more in a moment).
“It’s said that five belladonna berries are all it takes to kill someone.”
Belladonna was a sweet romance. Was it life-changing? No, not at all. Was it bad? Also no, not at all. I left this read feeling pleased with the ending, and indifferent at the same time. Signa and Death are the most interesting characters in the story, and everyone else felt somewhat flat. I had a minimal investment in them, which made what happened to them less effective than it should have been.
“Don’t say my name,” Signa said. “Upon Death’s tongue, it sounds like a curse.”
He laughed. The sound was low and melodic, and it had his shadows writhing. “Your name is no curse, Little Bird. I just like the taste of it.”
I’m still interested in knowing what happens in the next books, as I’m interested in Signa and Death’s relationship as well as the powers and world with regards to Death specifically. However, the book often focused too much on the inane, day-to-day courting and ball activities than the murder mystery, or the concepts of the metaphysical power. These concepts are what drew me to the book, and they seemed to be sprinkled in, as though this book was more about what courting was like back in this era than there being a murder to solve.
You are no soft thing to be coddled. The words Death had once told her played in her mind, over and over again. You are bolder than the sun, Signa Farrow, and it’s time that you burn.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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