BOOK REVIEW: Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

"Because death is only a reprieve for the dead, Mr. Thorly. It cares little for those it leaves behind."

I'm not sure which caught my eye of Adalyn Grace's Belladonna first: the gorgeous cover, or the intriguing premise of what lied between the pages. Regardless, I quickly purchased, and was immediately sucked in by Signa's story. Unfortunately, that interest waned over time, as I felt that the book was far longer than it warranted, and too deep-rooted in romance, as opposed to the mystery I was hoping for. It was these factors that helped me to reach the conclusion that I will not be returning for book two, Foxglove. That said, with notes of Meg Cabot's Abandon and Anna Godbersen's The Luxe; Belladonna is sure to take the breath away of those seeking a slow burn gothic romance with a side of mystery.

Nineteen-year-old Signa Farrow has not had an easy upbringing. Orphaned as a baby, Signa has been shuffled from one unqualified guardian to another, each more interested in the fortune attached to her person than she herself. Now she is down to the last set of relatives on her ever-dwindling list: the Hawthornes. Known for their elusiveness, the Hawthornes reside at Thorn Grove, a rambling estate that is a multifaceted conundrum, if you will. Touched by death, there is an overhanging gloom enshrouding Thorn Grove; yet the parties thrown by the recently widowed patriarch {Signa's Uncle Elijah} bring a sense of glittering glamour to the otherwise mournful residence. Despite the eccentricities found within Thorn Grove's walls and residents, it is the first place to ever feel like home to Signa; which is why she's determined to keep Death away.

You see, since the death of her own parents as an infant, a time when death touched but did not take her, Signa has had a bond with the Grim Reaper-like fellow known as Death - a bond that allows her to maintain a relationship with the man himself; while also possessing the ability to commune with spirits, and the real clincher, look Death in the eyes without ever succumbing to it herself {example: even when ingesting large doses of belladonna, she survives with nary a stomach pain}. Though some would view this is an extraordinary power, Signa sees it as a curse as it has left all of her prior caregivers deceased. Now, with Death so strong within the Hawthorne home, she must do everything in her power to rid the household of his cruel hand before she is finally left alone - which means she must play the role of Holmes.

Uncle Elijah's late wife, Aunt Lilianne, passed away recently from a mysterious illness that baffled medicine men, and worsened with the use of medicinal treatments. Aunt Lilianne's daughter, Blythe {Signa's cousin, respectfully}, is now suffering from an identical illness. After a few encounters with the mute Lilianne, Signa becomes convinced that her Aunt died not of natural causes, but from murder. With this newfound knowledge at her fingertips, Signa knows that she needs to unravel the mystery in order to save Blythe from a premature demise. But in order to do so, she'll have to call on her old friend Death.

Ah, Belladonna...somewhere around the 200 page mark this book steadily declined for me, leaving me struggling to power through to the end. I'm not sure if the blame lies in the fact that the romance was too heavy for my liking, or that I've grown tired of talk of societal debuts {thank you Bridgerton}, or merely fell upon the fact that it was fairly easy to identify the culprit; but something made my interest dissipate - and once it did, reaching the last page was a challenge. While I rather enjoyed Signa, I found her encounters with Death to be somewhat confusing. Was he tangible? Was he a ghost or spirit? This was never fully conceptualized; and, for that reason, left me unable to gravitate towards him. Though I wanted to love this one, and I'm sure many will for the reasons that didn't work for me, this one was an anticlimactic fail.

Star Rating: ***



ellie said...

I had been wondering about this book. Truly a beautiful bookcover. Thanks so much!

Better Left Unsaid said...

Awesome review! Great to know about this oneπŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

Caitlin'nMegan said...

I was wondering about this one! thanks!

Ivy's Closet said...

Wow! Such a great write up! I'm glad you did this!

Hollyn'Stevie said...

Great to read your take on this book. Such a beautiful book cover!

The Book Group said...

Wonderful review! You laid this one out so well! Thanks for your honesty!

Better Left Unsaid said...

Lovely book cover! Thanks for the review!

julie ann lozada said...

This book sounds really great.

INSTAGRAM: @julieann_lozada

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