Leta’s Book Review: Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Fantasy, Gothic, 14+

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

I want to start by thanking Netgalley and Little Brown Books for an advanced reader’s copy and the opportunity to read and review Belladonna.

I knew that Belladonna was going to be a good book, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer heartwrenching adventure that I was in for. Our heroine is Signa, a beautiful young woman looking to debut into society despite her unusual upbringing. After her parents died when she was a baby, a number of relatives stepped forward to take care of her due to the substantial inheritance she’ll get when she comes of age. Her grandmother wins out and lives for the majority of Signa’s life, but soon becomes the first in a line of guardians that Signa lives with and watches die.

When the novel opens, Signa is living with an abusive aunt. Suddenly, the aunt’s luck runs out and Signa is once again on her own. Without another relative to take her in, Signa is alone for a short time. Then the mysterious Hawthornes of Thorn Grove – distant cousins – show up to take Signa to their manor house. At the house, Signa finds herself embroiled in the strange lives of the inhabitants. A sickly child, a mysterious murder deemed otherwise, and the ghosts that only Signa can see are parts of the strange and gothic nature of Thorn Grove.

The other important character in Belladonna is Death. We learn very quickly that Signa has run into him before, both when the people around her die and when she attempts to endanger her life by eating deadly belladonna berries. Of course, they don’t kill her, but they do enable her to summon Death to her. It’s in those moments when it becomes clear that this is a love story – one that will surprise the reader at every turn.

At first, I wasn’t sure where the plot was going to go. Signa seems so set on debuting that nothing else matters to her, despite the hints being given about the lady of the manor’s death. The ghosts that she sees around the manor, however, have a different plan and when the ghost of Lady Hawthorne herself speaks to Signa, she makes it her mission to help the Lady find the person who murdered her.

I loved the tension in Belladonna. There were moments it plateaued, but it was only for long enough to catch your breath. Then Signa would be caught in the web of the next event, ready to fight her way through to the truth. I admire her as a heroine, probably because she both fits her time and doesn’t. She could be a debuting lady, but she’s a fearless investigator when it’s required.

If you enjoy gothic fantasy, unique death magic, and paranormal murder mysteries, Belladonna is the book for you. It’s the first part of a duology that I believe is supposed to finish next year, so it isn’t a long story. Between the dark and creepy vibes and Signa trying not to fall for Death himself, Belladonna is the perfect book to pick up this spooky season. It will draw you in and make you question the motives of every person living in and around Thorn Grove.


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