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Belladonna by Adalyn Grace – ARC Review!

For as long as Signa Farrow has been alive, the people in her life have fallen like stars…

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 realises 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.

Where Signa Farrow goes, Death follows. Orphaned as a baby, Signa has been passed from family member to family member, with every single one meeting an untimely end. Now she is on the way to life with the Hawthorn’s, an eccentric and rich family who reside at Thorn Grove. But when Signa gets there Death is already waiting for her. Lillian Hawthorne died suddenly and now her daughter is suffering from the same illness & not long after her arrival Signa is visited by Lillians ghost, asking for help to save her. Alongside Silas, a surly stable boy, and Death himself, Signa will have to delve into the Hawthorn families past if she is to find out who is poisoning them, and ensure that Death takes no more of her family before their time.

Signa is such a fantastic character. She is a girl desperate for a family, so desperate that she will accept any scrap of affection sent her way, but there are others who feel she deserves more. After her family was killed when she was a child, Signa has been able to sense and communicate with Death and spirits, something that makes her different, special and dangerous, something she has to hide. But when she arrives at Thorn Grove and senses Death’s presence, she is more that ready to stand up against him, refusing to let him take another family member from her. She is headstrong, determined, but also so determined to try and fit into polite society, to behave like they expect a young woman should, that she denies herself things she wants, sometimes needs.

Grace also treats us to a tight-knit and incredibly well developed cast of side characters, my favourites being Silas, the stable boy who helps Signa uncover the mystery surrounding Thorn Grove, Blythe, her cousin whose life she saves, and Death, who isn’t the traditional dark, uncaring being we see in other stories, rather someone who cares deeply for those under his care and, on finding someone in Signa who he can talk to, who can see him, finds that he is reluctant to let her go.

The magic system in this story was incredibly well developed and extremely easy to understand. Signa was born with the ability to see spirits and even Death himself, able to communicate with them. This obviously plays a large part in the story, with Signa having to uncover the mystery of who poisoned Lillian and is doing the same to Blythe now. It’s creepy in parts, not all of the spirits are helpful or friendly. It’s got big Gothic vibes with a family shrouded in secrets and a manor haunted by spirits & Grace’s writing style certainly helps bring this atmosphere to life. There’s a multitude of plot twists, some I got right off the bat and others that slowly un-winded throughout the story, but they were all perfectly executed and added an extra amount of tension and drama to the plot.

If you like your romances slow & steady, with plenty of longing glances, gentle touches, regency with a little added heat, then this is the book for you. Though there are two love interests throughout the book, it never gave off love triangle vibes, thanks in large part to us only getting Signa’s POV and her not trusting her own feelings, never mind that of others. The romance was almost inevitable, like it was fated to be, and I loved seeing them go from being snarky with one another, not quite willing to trust, to learning that they are not wholly what they seem, rather misunderstood, and then the feelings stemming from that.

The story ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, but that’s just made me even more eager to get my hands on the next book. This story just highlighted for me how important it is to give second chances, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Grace’s first book, but this blew me away. Everything from the characters to the writing was more mature, and her use of tropes throughout the story was executed incredibly well. I’m eager to see what she has in store for us next.

7 replies »

  1. I ended up loving this one so much more than I thought I would. It was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone with all the ghostly things but I adored Signa and I loved how Death was personified. He’s such a gentle and thoughtful soul and it was so easy to empathise with him and his desires. I also thought the mystery was so compelling and I can’t wait for the next book—need it now already, please. 😍 Great review, Becky!

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    • Yay I’m glad you loved it too Dini! It definitely had some gothic/creepy vibes but I didn’t find it too scary. Totally agree about Death, it’s one of the few times I’ve ever read him as the good guy & I loved it! Absolutely can’t wait for book 2 😊

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  2. I’m loving the sound of the magic system and the premise, but how romantic is it, I don’t tend to read romance, though I don’t mind a little of it in the background of a book, but I don’t like it to be its main concentration, if you get what I mean lol!

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    • I totally get you. I would say the romance does play a significant part of the story, but never felt like it took over (if that makes sense). It’s first and foremost a gothic, almost murder mystery, with the romance playing second fiddle.

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