Belladonna (Belladonna #1) by Adalyn Grace #bookreview #YA #gothic #mystery

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 realizes 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.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer 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. 

A restless spirit, mysterious illness, family estate, and Death helping solve the mystery? This checked so many boxes for me.

I love a gothic atmosphere, and it absolutely dripped from the pages throughout this book. I’m also a fan of the 1850s time period. Signa hasn’t had an easy upbringing. Orphaned as an infant, she’s passed around to several guardians, most of them caring more about the allowance that comes along with her than Signa herself. When she’s taken in by the Hawthornes, distant cousins, her dreams of a stable home and the opportunity to be introduced into society are finally coming true. But there’s something she’s never told anyone – she can communicate with spirits. When the ghost of recently deceased Mrs. Hawthorne requests her help, and maybe not in such a nice way, Signa finds herself in the middle of a mystery. Time is of the essence because the family’s daughter seems to be suffering from the same illness that killed her mother.

I haven’t come across many novels featuring Death as a character, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him at first. He escorts people to the other side, so that can’t be good, right? My perception of him gradually changed throughout the story as I came to understand exactly what he does, and it’s actually kind of beautiful. He and Signa share an unusual bond I won’t spoil. She’s still unsure of exactly where she belongs, but her journey to understanding is wondrous. Signa makes some reckless decisions, but she’s persistent, and I enjoyed watching her and Death solve the mystery. I had part of it figured out, but the final reveal was a shocker. Didn’t see that one coming.

I’d originally believed this to be a standalone, but was thrilled to see another book is coming. If you’re a fan of atmospheric, gothic mysteries interlaced with a bit of romance and magic, you can’t go wrong with Belladonna.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

29 thoughts on “Belladonna (Belladonna #1) by Adalyn Grace #bookreview #YA #gothic #mystery

  1. Very intriguing. Must check this out. As for Death, I’ve come across a couple of books/series that feature Death as a character, and I have to say, I’ve enjoyed them. My favorite is a series by Devon Monk (I’m a BIG fan of her work) about a little town called Ordinary, where gods and other supernatural beings go when they need a break from their work. Example: Odin currently lives there creating chain saw sculptures for sale! 😁

    It’s wonderfully well-written and Death is definitely a favorite character of mine. (I highly recommend the series, and pretty much everything else Devon Monk has written.)

    Heading over to check out Belladonna now! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That series sounds wonderful, Marcia – can’t believe I haven’t heard of it. I had to laugh at the idea of Odin creating chainsaw sculptures, lol. Everyone needs a break, I guess! I’ll definitely check this out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Death & Relaxation is #1 in the series (9 books so far) and the books just got better and better as I read. I suspect you’ll thoroughly enjoy them all. Can’t remember which one it was when Death decided he needed a vacation, but he’s a great character and a fun addition to the good folks in the little town of Ordinary. I’ll be interested in what you think if you get a chance to check out the series. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. A gothic atmosphere gets me every time, Staci – just love it. I didn’t get far enough in the Supernatural series to see Death yet, but I haven’t been disappointed by any characters they’ve cast so far. Have a great weekend!


    1. You mention The Playground and I immediately think of Clovis. One of my favorite characters you created. I’m watching The Sandman on Netflix, and I just saw the episode with his sister, Death. She was also portrayed in a positive way.

      Liked by 1 person

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