Belladonna (Belladonna #1 - Book Review)
Confusing, that’s the best word to describe this. Death meets Signa, a relationship that could have had a lot of potential, romance-and-fantasy wise. However, it all needed more structure, more ironclad arguments, and most importantly, it needed a why.
Book: Belladona (#1)
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5
Author: Adalyn Grace
📕Buy link at the end of this post ⤵️
Confusing, that’s the best way I can describe this book. I’ve been struggling to disentangle this jumble of thoughts I have regarding it to make coherent statements for you to judge wether you’ll read this story or not.
“Belladonna” features a 19-year-old orphan girl, Signa, who’s lived with multiple guardians waiting to be able to inherit her parents’ fortune. Most of these guardians have been greedy or negligent, for which they have perished eventually. Now, Signa is invited to live with her last relatives, the Hawthornes. The wife has died. The husband has gone unpredictable in his grief. The daughter is very ill, and the son is trying to keep it all together. There’s a mystery surrounding this family; puzzle pieces that doesn’t fit together, especially after Signa finds out Mrs. Hawthorne might have been poisoned. Signa is set to uncover the murderer and chase Death away from her life for once and for all.
What I Liked
Let’s start with the easiest part, the title. It makes me smile. Belladona is a poisonous plant, and also the protagonist in this story. However, could the author have wanted to reference to Signa as well, as the bella donna, meaning pretty woman? If she had, it doesn’t affect or complement the story in any way, but I like the word play.
Another aspect I liked was having Death as a co-protagonist. He is all shadows and coldness, the quiet at night, ‘the ferrier of souls,’ the most feared by humans, but the one who ‘makes this world beautiful.’ The latter is a refreshing way of interpreting death in general, another side of the coin that we usually don’t want to acknowledge. Moreover, the premise of Death and Signa having a sort of bond was interesting. It wasn’t well developed, but there’s potential there. Also, he was involved in a twist at the end I enjoyed.
What I Didn’t Like
- I was promised a highly romantic tale, but it wasn’t delivered. At the beginning, Signa reminded me of Evangeline in “Once Upon a Broken Heart—” a shallow woman with shallow desires. However, in her case, I can understand her need to fit in the society of her time. But then, when the character gets involved in a love triangle and can’t decide who she likes more, it becomes infuriating. It prevents the reader for really engaging in the romance, to fall in love with them. Also, the relationship was underdeveloped.
- I don’t understand Signa’s powers. I get the logic behind it, but there’s a big why missing, how her existence came to be. What’s exactly her role in all of it? Then, she embraces her ‘destiny’ and becomes what she becomes, but there’s something missing for me here.
- Signa is trying to solve a murder. She eventually taps into her powers to get some answers. Why didn’t she think of that earlier? Before that, there’s a scene with a ghost who could have had valuable information, but in the rush of the circumstances, she doesn’t interrogate him further. I get we need the suspense. Nevertheless, it felt those intuitive actions—that didn’t happen—created gaps in the arguments of the story, same with the conclusion of the case. The murderer’s motive, and why he/she went to such extents, doesn’t fit entirely for me. It wasn’t enough.
- A lot of people die in the same dramatic scene. There’s a celebration, people drink and then, they die. It gets repetitive. Also, isn’t suspicious how Signa’s parents died? Why there wasn’t any mention of that considering how the deaths that triggered the story and even the sequel coming next year, happened?
- At one point, I wondered how the series was going to continue. It felt the story was going to be wrapped up in book 1. Maybe, her love relationship was going to be developed further in book 2? Then, you get to the final page. Afterwards, you read the description for “Foxglove—” the sequel. My brain explodes. What? Where does that story come from? There’s no context, no background, not anything in this first book suggesting where the story could evolve to. Now, out of the blue we have this incoherent plot with new players. Confusing. See? Besides, haven’t the Hawthornes suffered enough, non-stop I might add?
I have to be very honest with you. I’m not looking forward to the sequel. I don’t even know if I’ll read it for the sake of this review. It wasn’t the worst book to read, but it wasn’t engaging or entertaining either. Nonetheless, as we all have different tastes, you’ll be your own judge.
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