Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

As a baby, Signa was surrounded by death when everyone, including her parents, died from poison at a party at her family estate. When Death reached for her, he saw her future instead of memories of her short life, and her soul was not to be taken that night. Now, at nineteen, Signa has been passed from family member to family member, each desperate for the money that comes along with taking care of her, but they all meet an untimely end. Signa knows Death better than any living being could, and she hates him for the way his actions impact her life. And she hates the strange abilities she has which connect her to him. Ultimately, the trail of dead family members ends with her living with her uncle and cousins as Thorn Grove. This is a family also haunted by death. Her aunt died from a mysterious illness that her cousin Blythe now suffers from as well. But this is no natural illness. When Signa discovers her aunt was killed by slow doses of poison from belladonna berries, she is determined to find the killer in order to save Blythe and get justice for her aunt, whose restless spirit will not leave Thorn Grove. In order to succeed however, Signa must accept Death’s help and embrace who – or what – she truly is.

This book surprised me in so many ways. The mystery was twisted, with so many suspects to bounce back and forth from. It makes the story incredibly engaging. I was also surprised by the romance which is beautiful and soft at times but also quite steamy too. And the surprise twist at the end regarding Signa’s love triangle truly shook me; I never saw it coming.

Besides the mystery and the romance, this story asks important questions about how much importance you should place on how you fit in to society. If you have to change who you are fundamentally just to fit in with people who you don’t even truly like and who drain your energy, is it really worth it? What’s the importance of a label? Does it really mean anything? Is wealth and status more important than your comfort and happiness? Along with those questions, the story also makes you think more about death. How it shouldn’t be spoken about in hushed tones, like it is a taboo topic. It is just another part of nature, another part of us, of our cycle on this Earth. The unknown causes fear, that’s easy enough to understand, but shoving these uncomfortable topics into the closet with all your other skeletons will only make it harder to view in any other light.

This is a story that can’t be defined with just one genre. There’s mystery, paranormal aspects, romance, as well as a sort of coming-of-age angle. Signa is ultimately working on finding herself. Discovering who she is, what she likes, what her ideal future would ultimately look like for her, and accepting the answers whether they fit with what she had been taught she should want or not. And when she blooms into her true self, you can feel the empowerment buzzing in every word.

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