3 Things About This Book
| Gothic Fantasy Romance | Death as the Love Interest | Murder Mystery |
One of the most refreshing YA Gothic Fantasy Romances that I’ve read in forever, Belladonna by Adalyn Grace centres around Signa, an orphan set to inherit a vast fortune upon reaching adulthood and thus, is subjected to being shuffled around several greedy relatives. Unfortunately for those relatives, Signa’s ‘cursed’—unable to die yet followed by death in both literal and metaphorical sense. One by one, those relatives meet their untimely end and with each demise, Death appears, either to collect waiting souls or summoned by Signa’s new suicide attempt. This, of course, causes Signa to hate Death as she believes him to be the source of her ‘curse’ which would lead to her being unable to marry (ngl, I laughed at this because I didn’t think Signa would be that type of shallow until I remembered what period this book is set in).
As Signa nears her 18th birthday, she is sent to live with her last remaining relatives: the Hawthorne Family at Thorn Grove who have their own curse as well. Their home is haunted by the ghost of Lillian, the wife of the Hawthorne patriarch, and Blythe is dying of the same illness that took her mother. Things come to a head when Lillian confronts Signa, claiming she was poisoned, and that’s when the race against time begins. To help Lillian find peace by finding the culprit while trying to prevent Blythe’s death, Signa will need to work together with Death.
The mystery aspect of Belladonna is hands down my utmost favourite thing in this book. There is just the perfect amount of tension, twists and turns, and a quick enough pace to keep me hooked. I had my suspicions but ultimately, didn’t see the final revelation coming. I loved how things turned out and was pleasantly surprised by the way Signa handled the aftermath too.
Nevertheless, I’m gonna be honest and admit that Signa is not my favourite type of heroine. As aforementioned, she’s shallow, though I understand that’s most likely resultant of the time period and her upbringing. Signa is also very impulsive and while I get that without her impulsiveness we wouldn’t have a book as quick-paced as it is, I also can’t help but wish that she would just stop and use her common sense once in a while.
Death, on the other hand, is a very sweet and understanding love interest. He’s the much better version of Greek God Hades and I really liked the tenderness he has for Signa and the souls, and the banter he shares with Signa. However, the romance between Death and Signa went from 0 to 100 very quickly. Thinking about it from Death’s perspective, it makes sense because he’s been waiting for a being like her for a long time already. But, in Signa’s, it just makes her look like a very thirsty girl, especially considering how much she hated Death in the beginning.
Also, (ngl here too) if we view Death on the same plane of morality as us humans, he has major, undeniable creep vibes (he watched Signa grow up ya’ll). So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend reading Belladonna the way you’d read a romance between humans while expecting a healthy relationship, because Death here is definitely not human.
Anyway, if you’re looking for an unconventional YA romance that also delivers what it says it will deliver (in this case, romance, murder and mystery), then Belladonna is a must-read.
Thank you so much Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!