Belladonna by Adalyn Grace is the ultimate gothic fantasy to read this autumn. It’s a romantic murder mystery that will blow you away!
About the Book
Author: Adalyn Grace
Series: Belladonna Series
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Gothic
Other works from the Author: All the Stars and Teeth Series
Page Number: 416
Audible Listening Time: 13 hours and 14 mins
Goodreads Rating: 4.18/5
My Rating: 3.8/5
People around Signa keep dying. As a result, she is constantly moved from one guardian to another. At last, Hawthrones, her remaining relatives at Throne Grove takes her in as a ward. But this time Signa is determined not to let anybody die around her anymore. She has to uncover the mystery behind her cousin's illness and the previous death of the lady of the estate from the same illness. To uncover this mystery, her only ally is Death himself. This dangerous and tantalizing liaison is the heart of the story.
The most interesting part of Belladonna is her interaction with Death. I didn’t care about the mystery illness much but I like that this disease was the catalyst for them to talk and spend time. Signa’s quest to find out why she can see death and talk to him is the main attraction of the book.
The romance is full of tropes. I have read countless books in romance that revolve around extremely powerful beings working with distressed protagonists and showing them a new worldview. So, I know how these books tend to end up. There are moments when it seemed like this book was going to devolve into something that felt familiar, but there were also times when I was very pleased with where the story took the characters. Overall, I think the author kept the romance interesting and intense, but there were a few moments when things were a little too predictable.
Signa’s character is my favourite in Belladonna. Her pain of losing so many people around her makes her vulnerable and strong at the same time. I loved how Adalyn Grace wrote about her character motivations. Her initial distrust of Death is completely understandable. She is a character that will stay with me for a long time. I am so excited to see her more in the next book. She is an expertly written character.
Death is an intriguing character. I loved how he interacts with Signa. We don’t get to see much of his POV and spend much time with him. We still don’t know his backstory either. But I liked what I got from Belladonna. The identity reveal is not my favourite thing in the book. It cheapened the character building we get up to that point for Death. I seriously did not like the other character that I am talking about here. I just felt I did not get enough time to understand their true character.
The eerie and mysterious atmosphere is the prime attraction in the gothic fantasy romance genre and the author captures it extremely well. I loved how she wrote Thorn Grove estate. It's everything that any gothic romance reader would want in a fantasy setting. Adalyn Grace writes the estate and its physical description with such precision, I could easily picture it in my head. It almost felt like I was reading about a real place. The author does an excellent job building a romantic gothic atmosphere in her novel.
The characters are all likeable and I enjoyed reading about them. I think the author did a great job developing the characters and making them three-dimensional. I also loved the romance in the story. I felt like I have been transported to the world. However, Mexican Gothic does it better. I saw a lot of similarities between the books. But I don’t mind them. I was specifically looking for something similar to Mexican Gothic to read in the genre.
The magic system and its limitations are clearly explained in Belladonna. Adalyn Grace gives exposition through situations and dialogues about the magic system which I appreciated. Belladonna also keeps the possibility to expand the magic system more in the next books.
The only complaint I have is the magic system is pretty bland in comparison to the world. It doesn’t blow my mind with its uniqueness. This system is fairly common in other similar books. I hoped for a unique magic system from Belladonna but didn’t get one.
The pacing is fantastic in Belladonna. The book is short and can be easily read in two sittings. Adalyn Grace managed to build a compelling world and character with an intriguing plot in less than 500 pages. This is commendable. I loved how easy it is to read.
I enjoyed Belladonna very much. I will be continuing with the series. I am very excited to see what happens in the next book. It is definitely worth a read for romance lovers.
Belladonna is overall an intriguing book. The romance is amazing. The main character Signa is my favourite from the book. The atmosphere and magic in this world is worth diving into. I am very impressed with the author’s writing. This was a fast and easy read that is perfect for a cozy read. Romance is predictable but I love predictability in romance. So there is no complaint from me in this regard. Some readers may not like this.
However, the twists and important reveals fall short of expectations. I was not vibing with the murder mystery from the beginning itself. So finding out who is the killer is not something for which I was biting my nails with anticipation.
“Do not change the parts of yourself that you like to make others comfortable. Do not try to mold yourself to fit the standards someone else has set for us.”
“Stop worrying about society and playing its game, hoping that you'll be good enough. There is no such thing as true goodness there is only perception.”
“Your name is no curse, Little Bird. I just like the taste of it”
“You must not allow yourself to be consumed so thoroughly by death. It’s not selfish to live.”
“I have waited for you for millennia, Signa Farrow. Since the dawn of this earth, I have waited. You are mine, and I am yours. And together, this world is ours.”
"You are no soft thing to be coddled... You are bolder than the sun, Signa Farrow, and it's time that you burn."
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.
However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer 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.
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