(4.5 out of 5 stars)
Belladonna is a YA gothic paranormal fantasy with romantic and mystery elements by Adalyn Grace. The ebook version is 416 pages. I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in at a little over thirteen hours and is narrated by Kristin Atherton.
Signa Farrow was orphaned as a baby and has passed from guardian to guardian ever since. Once she turns twenty, she’ll inherit her family’s estate, and until then her guardians will receive a stipend to keep her. Even though most of them are more interested in her money than herself, they keep dying on her and Signa is certain she is cursed. Her latest guardians are her last remaining relatives: The Hawthornes of Thorn Grove.
However, her aunt Lillian just died and her cousin Blythe seems to be suffering from the same symptoms as her mother. Lillian’s spirit demands that Signa help her figure out who murdered her, and to save her cousin’s life as well. In order to do so, she must ally with Death himself, a shadowy man who has followed her for her entire life, and someone she hates the most as he keeps taking the people closest to her away.
I got sucked into this book so quickly that I must now read the author’s debut duology. It was surprising to me that this is only Adalyn Grace’s third book! The narrator does a great job here, too.
I enjoyed it so much that I ended up reading the last 50% of the book in one sitting–and stayed up way past my bedtime to do so. I also really dig the cover, and I’m very into the latest craze of marketing with flowers creeping up and around people’s faces. I have already preordered the UK hardcover edition because I ended up really loving that cover as well.
Though it’s published by a “Young Readers” imprint, I think it seesaws between New Adult and Young Adult. There are a few steamy scenes and one on-page sex scene. Signa doesn’t know much about how young ladies should act, though she does have her trusty etiquette book that was left to her by her mother.
The epilogue goes out with a bang, and I’m excited to get the second book in this series (which will likely come out sometime in 2023). If you like spooky but romantic stories, you really should check this out.
CW: poisoning, murder, death, abuse (physical, emotional), violence, fire
Special thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Audio, Hachette and NetGalley for providing an audio galley of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own. Belladonna releases on Tuesday, August 30th.
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